The Great New York State Fair is not happening this year. The Fair is such a cornerstone to my year that this pisses me off to no end. I run an easy 8 on the Nikki Minaj rage scale just thinking about it, and as we get closer to the date that would have been I’m sure it’ll start shooting into double digits.
But the time to start planning around its absence is now. Perhaps there are small touches of the Fair that I can have at home, in some small way.
The first problem that comes to mind is that most of the best Fair foods are deep-fried. That’s a pretty tall order in my kitchen. Some things could be baked, perhaps, but I’m wondering if I can justify getting an air fryer. An air fryer can at least handle breaded foods, but battered anything is out of the question. That means no fried mashed potatoes or fried Cadbury creme eggs.
Then of course there’s my favorite thing: steak tips and mushrooms. I could never make steak tips half as good at home, and right now I’m still working through the whole gout thing. Can’t do steak tips. (I’m gonna try poking the bear and grilling a steak sometime soonish, though. In a worst-case scenario I’m gonna ask for a higher dosage of medication, which I think I should be on anyway.)
Chicken pitas: I used to love these and they were a yearly tradition, but they’ve mostly been replaced by the aforementioned steak tips. Thing is I could probably do this decently at home. Same issue with the gout, but a man has to take some risks. Although there’s also the fact that the cats won’t let me eat this in peace. I also used to like chicken spiedies at the Gianelli / Dinosaur Bar-B-Que tent, which is to say I still do but I haven’t eaten them much lately. I think I can work out how to cook up some interesting meat foods without going too far into the danger zone. If I get the grill going soon to make a steak, then I should have the option of cooking some nice chicken by Fair time.
Dippin’ Dots are not going to happen.
Fresh chese curd: maybe. There is a place that sells fresh curd locally, about 20 minutes away but worth the drive. Last time I was up there they were closed when their hours on the door said otherwise, but it seems they may have been closed all week for vacation according to their Facebook page—not a virus thing after all. So maybe this is doable.
Mini donuts: I actually have a mini donut maker around somewhere, but lately I’m trying to drop some weight and this seems like a really stupid thing to do. Also kind of a lot of work. While I expect to indulge a little bit, I think this is a step too far. Buying donuts is probably also a bad idea.
Aside from food, there’s the fun of looking around at new gadgets and tools, spice blends from the Garlic Festival booth, the Pampered Chef booth, the flea market tent… So I think I should devote a big chunk of time to browsing Amazon (I have some gift card money) and maybe Etsy too, for the heck of it. Plus Pampered Chef’s site, obviously. I should look around at things I ordinarily wouldn’t. A lot of miscellany you see around the Fair won’t be in front of me, like various artwork, the DVD booth, miracle glue, mop demos, beef jerky (bad idea: see steak, above), fudge (bad idea: see donuts, above), massage pillows, oils, taffy. At the Fair you also pass by oh so many jewelry booths; while I have no interest in buying any, I miss that bit of sparkle passing by. The Center of Progress building also has that big sand sculpture in the middle, and right around it there’s all kinds of state-office booths and political crap—but I think I can make do without the political crap. I seldom spend a lot on shopping, usually mostly on food, and in this case it’s all about the browsing anyway.
Then there’s the question of entertainment. Truthfully I miss out on a lot of the live non-music shows anyway, because sitting around in the heat can be a bit much, but there’s plenty of interesting stuff to see and even the vendors hawking must-have products can be entertaining. (Closest at-home equivalent: turn on QVC all day. I don’t think I can do that to myself.) I do miss walking by live bands playing in a restaurant’s tent, and can’t think of a good at-home version. I think one thing I should do is binge-watch YouTube channels where people do interesting DIY projects, because that’ll fill some of the entertainment void while also helping fill in the feeling of walking by little works of art: like mini fountains and those wooden bowls that lift up from a flat surface.
I like checking out the Art & Home Center, the art exhibits and also the knitting/chrochet/quilting stuff. Maybe more Etsy time? I can’t figure on buying anything of that sort, but it’s fun to look. And hey, maybe some YouTube channels doing cutesier craft projects would suit that as well.
What I can’t replace is the atmosphere. Walking around and smelling various things cooking, getting that occasional whiff from the barns (not pleasant mind you, but it’s part of the experience), the constant ambient noise from all directions, and the lights at night from all the rides, the vendors, the odd toy going by in some happy kid’s hand. But what I really miss most is being out in the night air with all of those things going on around me, feeling I’m sampling just a small part of an experience so much larger than myself. Sometimes my favorite thing is to sit by the fountain in front of the Horticulture building, or in one of the enclosed gardens in that building, and just breathe it all in. Can’t do that this year, and it’s a loss I already feel deeply.
But I can do some of the rest. Oh yes, somehow I’m gonna have to try.