Wayne Weekly “My State of Affairs”

Written by on August 31, 2015

Ever since I was a young boy my family has attended the NY State Fair.


Those early days were not all that different then they are today. During that time many of the streets were red brick. Some brick still shows near the entrance to the tunnel under the track leading to the infield. What memories that brings back to me when my wife Evie and I  pass by that area on the State Fair 4H tram. The Tram has become a more recent Wayne Taylor family tradition and is still one of the best deals on the grounds.


My Dad was in local radio and always received a press pass that allowed him to park in the infield. Back then no one seemed to care if your car was full of kids or not, you were allowed through the gate, and you would actually drive down the streets of the fair to get to your parking spot. It almost seems to me that a few times my Dad just pulled over to the side of one of the exhibitor streets and parked there, letting his brood out of what seemed to us a paddy wagon and, with controlled chaos, into the streets of the glorious NY State Fair.


There were seven of us altogether. My two brothers and two sisters and I could hardly be contained. It was thrilling to collect all the handouts. Usually lots of pencils and rulers, key chains and paper fans. My Mom generally packed our lunch and we would go back the car to eat. We never thought much about that. My Mom didn’t work, so money was tight for a family of seven. We were always treated to a snow cone or cotton candy. And of course, the Rainbow Milk Bar for some sweet chocolate or strawberry milk. Years back they offered strawberry, too. Every so often we were allowed to pick out a souvenir. Usually not the top of the line. We had to bypass the “dancing monkey on a stick”, or the “felt feathered hat” with one’s name glued on in glitter. I think one year I got some kind of metal that I stamped my name on with some machine. To me it was the greatest!


Yes, we visited the usual livestock pavilions, the poultry building, the sheep, the horse arena, the Hall of Health featuring the House of Hazards with its multiple rooms featuring fire perils, and the power line demonstration causing anything that contacts the wires to burst into flames…very effective. We couldn’t wait for the sparks and the fireball while at the same time being thankful that it wasn’t us going up in smoke.


And who could forget the Indian Village, the antique train exhibit, and  State Fair track races. I remember hearing the incredibly loud roar and smelling engine and tires as those cars sped around the long since retired oval dirt track.


The midway was a limited stop, but we were allowed so many tickets each. The Scrambler, the Flying Bobs, and double Ferris wheel were the most terrifying rides back then. I recall one year zooming around and nearly being turned upside down in a rocket at the end of a long crank.  It turned frightful when I slipped out of my restraining belt and ended up in the nose cone hanging on for dear life. Today the amusements look like scenes from the Transformer movies and truly can transform your fair experience into horror…that is if you’re over forty.


Then there was the forbidden “side show” with three eyed William Durks, and the human blockhead able to drive real nails into certain parts of his head. This talent also appeared as the rubber man, the fire eater, and the sword swallower. There was the woman with the elephant feet, the tiniest woman alive, and others. When my one brother and I got old enough to be on our own, we would venture into that surreal exhibit, though strongly “discouraged” by my Mom.


The fair experience has followed me for a good number of years now. My family and I still make a day, sometimes two, of it. I sometimes wonder why I still expend all the energy to go and walk around the sometimes very hot fairgrounds. I suppose for the same reason I still listen to a train whistle in the distance…and wonder.


“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”    Proverbs 17:2

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