Labor Day: Observations from the New York State Fair

By September 5, 2011blog
New York State Fair 1913 Exterior rendering of Poultry Building. James A. Randall, Architect

With the recent national budget debacles and stock market jitters resembling some financial version of pilot-induced oscillation it felt poignant to visit the New York State Fair.

New York State Fair goat and pig exhibit shedThe goat and pig exhibit shed.

Here were agricultural sheds of great utility and beauty, spaces built years ago with economy, generosity and ease of maintenance that continue to serve as shelter for genuine wealth: cows, chickens, pigs, goats, the fruits of farm labor with their proprietors sleeping nearby and showing off the best of their work.

New York State Fair Poultry Building interiorInterior of the Poultry Building.

New York State Fair 1913 Exterior rendering of Poultry Building. James A. Randall, Architect1913 Exterior rendering of Poultry Building. James A. Randall, Architect.

And here was the Midway, drawing the crowds and taking their money. The funhouses and other amusements trucked in for the fair, fold-out facades and warped mirrors, rigged games and roller coasters, were lined with people gladly handing over cash for another go.

back side of a mobile funhouseThe back side of a mobile funhouse, ingenious in its own right.

It was easy to imagine, within the confines of the fair, that these two eternal realms of the USA were in balance. And when our national worth and purpose seems as fragmented and unstable as it does right now, this spectacle of a self-contained, grass-roots, localized economy (however illusionary it might have been) was a heartening scene.