Saturday, August 29, 2015

North Country People At the New York State Fair

Here is my story about the first day of the fair and North Country people at the fair:

Katie and Michael Stoffel of Antwerp enjoy their chocolate milk at the fair.
It was exceptionally cool (sometimes downright cold) and rainy on the first day of the New York State Fair Thursday.

But that didn’t keep the folks from coming out for food, animals, music, product demonstrations and rides at the fairgrounds in Geddes, just west of Syracuse.Thousands had come through the turnstiles by Thursday afternoon. And while they were at the fair, they were greeted by many fair exhibitors and fair workers who are from Northern New York.

Here are some of their stories:

Iroquois Village -- The Iroquois Village is a proud part of the
Margaret Burnam, a Mohawk, at the Iroquois Village
fairgrounds in which people from the Six Nations of the Iroquois tell fair visitors of the history of their people and share their customs and lives.

One of them is Margaret Burnam, 73, a Mohawk formerly from Hogansburg, St. Lawrence County. She has been coming to the State Fair since she was 6 years old and still remembers years when she would participate in the dances put on by the Native Americans at the village.

“I would dance when I felt like it,” she said. “Then I would run over to the Midway.”

Thursday, she was cleaning up the Mohawk booth where handmade jewelry and other items are sold. A downpour had just swept through and one side of the booth was wet.

“I love it here,” she said. “People come here and ask questions.”

She lamented the fact that visitors often don’t know very much about the Six Nations of the Iroquois. She tries to help when she can. She recommends books for people to read and has even had people come back to her the next year to thank her for the recommendation.

Ms. Burnam will be at the fair all 12 days.

Milking and birthing cows – Teri Martin, of the town of Fowler,
Teri Martin in the Dairy Cow Birthing Center
St. Lawrence County, is doing double duty at the state fair.

She is in charge of the milking parlor, where all the cows being shown and displayed in the dairy cattle building come at least twice a day to be milked. About 500 cows are milked there and Agri-Mark, a dairy cooperative, picks up the milk for processing.

She also volunteers (when cows aren’t being milked) at the Dairy Cow Birthing Center, answering questions from those watching calves being born.

“I was showing cows here about 20 years ago and they needed someone to run the milking parlor. I said ‘I can do that,’” Mrs. Martin said. “Then three years ago when the birthing center started, Jessica (Jessica Ziehm, who run the birthing center) came to us at the milking parlor to see if we wanted to work at the center. So here I am.”

Mrs. Martin is happy to answer questions at the birthing center because “the more we education we can do the better for all of us.”

“And I like answering questions,” she said. “Most people are four generations removed from the farm, so they need to know what we do.”

She’s been asked some doozy questions. Someone wanted to know if you really can tip a cow over. Does chocolate milk come only from brown cows? Do cows bite? Does it hurt cows when they’re milked?

“No question is too silly,” Mrs. Martin said.

Mrs. Martin and her husband, David, have Holsteins and Brown Swiss on their second-generation dairy farm.

Keeping the peace – Sgt. Gary Mattimore is the station
Sgt. Gary Mattimore
commander for the New York State Police in Gouverneur, St. Lawrence County.

But this week, he is the day shift supervisor for the state police exhibit at the New York State Fair. The 21-year state police veteran ensures the exhibit is running smoothly, that all the demonstrations are being done correctly and on time and that fair visitors are getting their questions answered.

“It’s a fun detail. I like to help people out and make sure everything is running smoothly,” Sgt. Mattimore said. He said some of the incidents troopers may have to deal with at the fair include fights, injuries and thefts.

The state police exhibit includes the canine unit and its handlers, the scuba detail, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, recruiters and those operating the rollover demonstration. On Thursday, Sgt. Mattimore was helped with the rollover demonstration, picking up dummies that had been thrown out of the rolling vehicle and putting them back in the car.

This is his third year working the state fair. He is north country through and through, being a native of Lewis County and having worked in Plattsburgh, Canton, Carthage,  Lowville, Ray Brook and Gouverneur during his career. He was senior firearms instructor at Ray Brook.

Merry Christmas – Even though it’s only August, Cathy Jo and
Cathy Jo and Rob Brown of Three B Christmas Tree Farm
Robert Brown always have Christmas on their minds.

They run Three B Christmas Tree farm in Norfolk, located between Potsdam and Massena in St. Lawrence County. They also have a farm in Jordan in Onondaga County.

They were working Thursday at the state fair booth for the Christmas Tree Farmers Association of New York.

“The foremost thing we do here at our farm is education,” said Mrs. Brown. “When people come out, it’s almost Christmas and everybody’s happy and you can please most people.”

What most fairgoers don’t realize is Christmas tree producers don’t work just from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve.

I could work seven days a week right now. It started as a hobby, but, it’s not a hobby,” he laughed.

Mrs. Brown said the only time Christmas tree growers aren’t working in the fields is January to March. Then spring comes and they are out trimming trees constantly and then mowing the land around the trees. The Browns have 43 acres in St. Lawrence County and sell blue spruce, Fraser firs and balsams.

“We sell those because of the frost and cold we get up there,” Mrs. Brown said. “Some varieties don’t do well in those conditions.”

And even though running a Christmas tree farm and selling wreaths and other greenery decorations they make takes them away from enjoying their own Christmas season, they wouldn’t give it up for the world.

“I’ve always enjoyed the tree farm business,” Mr. Brown said. They are celebrating their 25th anniversary in business this year.

Sweet maple --  Nadeen Lyndaker, one of the owners of Lyndaker Maple Orchard in Croghan,  Lewis County, was putting people to
Todd Hofheins, of Attica, Wyoming County, and Nadeen Lyndaker, of Croghan, Lewis County, man the education center for the New York State Maple Producers booth in the Horticulture Building at the State Fair
the test at the New York State Maple Producers Booth at the state fair.

“OK, tell me which is real maple syrup and which is the fake stuff,” she said as she handed a farigoer  two little plastic cups with syrups in it. One was a lighter color and one was a bit darker.

She said it was surprising that some people who said they only eat maple syrup would get it wrong and some who said they would definitely be able to tell the difference also had a difficult time tell real from fake.

Mrs. Lyndaker was working in the maple producers’ education booth, which began last year but wasn’t located near the maple products booth in the Horticulture Building. This year, the education center is directly across from the maple products booth and many more people are checking it out.

“We are teaching them about the new grades (of syrup, which changed this year) and how the collection of sap and making of syrup has changed over the years. We’re here to educate people.”

The education center has photos on the wall depicting sap collection in buckets and the newer modern way of collection via tubing and vacuums. The trees in the center are dripping water (to depict sap) and there is even a place to take a selfie with trees in the background that you then can put on Facebook.

And the workers there also answer questions. Mrs. Lyndaker said some people don’t realize maple syrup really comes from maple trees. One person wanted to know if it could be made sugar free.

“We want them to know it is a real, fresh, local agricultural product,” she said.The Lyndaker Maple Orchard has been around since 1926 and it in its fourth generation.

Enjoying NYS milk – While they weren’t working or exhibiting at the fair, two Antwerp residents were found Thursday enjoying some cold, fresh chocolate milk from the Rainbow Milk Bar.

Michael Stoffel said – tongue in cheek – that he collects his quarters all year to get ready for the fair and the Rainbow Milk Bar. The bar sells cups of white or chocolate milk for 25 cents.

He said he and Katie Stoffel come to the fair each year and always enjoy a cup of milk.

No comments:

Post a Comment