Monday, August 28, 2006

Pssst! America! There is a whole STATE of New York!!

This past weekend, John and I went to the New York State Fair at Syracuse, which is apparently the biggest and oldest fair in the country. Who knew that New York was such a huge dairy producing state?? As I had expected, there were tons of 4-H clubs represented and thousands of "show" animals, punctuated by carnival rides, and all tied together with that great American social glue: FRIED FOODS. (I'll write about that later, since it deserves its own entry.)

It was great to see and touch a bit of nature, like the chicks bursting out of their eggs in the incubator. And there were a surprising number of scary-looking rides, none of which I will ever enjoy because I am so freaked out by the drug-addled carnies that throw those things up on a weekly basis in neighborhoods near you, all around the country (I worked on legislation in California that would have provided much better licensing and regulations for this industry- needless to say, it didn't pass!)

The biggest let-down was the butter sculpture, which, although life-size, lacked detail and interest (apparently I'm a connoisseur of this stuff now). The most pleasant surprise, though, was the Cheese Lady, who was whittling a hunk of cheddar into a "Sponge Bob Cheese Pants" masterpiece when I engaged her in conversation.

I asked her if she had any formal cheese-carving training, or if she was self-taught. Flashing a braces-filled smile, she immediately informed me that she was 1 of only 3 cheese carvers in the country (interesting though profoundly unsubstantiated statistic) and that she, indeed, was from Wisconsin (I had not asked).

Taking another look at her, I wondered if it was hard for her to date: the long weeks on the road, traveling from fair to fair with only the carnies to keep her company, the faint but constant scent of whey on her hands, the cheese bow tie she was wearing, you get the picture. However, a quick internet search tells me that we shouldn't fear for The Cheese Lady, because "she is quite reputable in the cheese sculpting field." (However, I do think there might be some serious competition going on this "field," as I found another website for someone who ALSO calls herself "The Cheese Lady"- for the curious, intrigue lurks around every corner!)

I decided that I was DEFINITELY a city slicker, since I asked not-so-smart questions like, "Do the eggs come out of the chicken that size, and then the chicks grow inside until the egg breaks open, or does the egg come out smaller and grow?" DUMB DUMB DUMB. At least I didn't ask if the bunny laid the eggs (although I have to admit that those Cadbury Creme Egg commercials, with the Easter bunny laying the chocolate eggs, really confused me when I was in middle school.)

Anyway, folks, the lesson of the day is that New York is, in fact, an entire STATE and not just a single, famous city with the same name.

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