Sunday At The NYS Fair

Here are some pictures from the New York State Fair. The first is actually a diner we passed half lost but near the fairgrounds. You’ll see crawdads, spiedies and dinosaur ribs. Maybe I have not gone to many fairs, but the amazing thing to me about the place was how there were more food booths than carnies. The butter sculpture was amazing…well…interesting enough…I guess. Clean, civilized, packed and stinkin’ hot when the weather was calling for cloudy with rainy spells. Excellent.

Here are two short short movies, the first of a crowd scene [1.5 MB] and the second of the two-seater ride I will never take [2.1 MB].


Beer Shop: Galeville Grocery, Liverpool, NY



Directions to Galeville Grocery

So we hit the road at 8:00 am and were at the fair at 10:30 am after a few stops – one of which was the Galeville Grocery. Unlike Pennsylvania and its restrictive distributor system, New Yorkers have some of the most civilized laws relating to the purchasing of ales. As in Quebec, any corner store can pretty much be one of the best sources you will find. Thanks to a tip from the Homebrewers Digest, we turned off I-81 at the Liverpool turn-off and hunted for the 116 year old shop.

As the photo below shows, it was a small trip into a pretty nice selection of micros. Lots of Ithaca, Brooklyn and other New Yorkers plus a good selection from across the land. They even had sixes of Sleeman’s honey brown for 4.99 which is about 6.50 CND – or 4 bucks less than it costs here in Ontario where it is made. I picked up a variety pack from both Ithaca and Southern Tier as well as a six from each of Brooklyn, Wagner Valley and, because I could, one of Shipyard IPA from Portland Maine. Expect a few comparing and contrasting reviews over the next week weeks including much reference to the works of Lew Bryson.


It was a bit of a lesson in surcharges. The beer cost me $50.45 USD or $67.10 CND. I then paid $2.10 USD New York State bottle return, $3.66 USD New York state tax, $4.00 CND federal duty, $9.64 Ontario Liquor Commission mark-up, $5.44 Canadian Federal Goods and Services Tax, $10.48 Ontario Provincial Sales Tax. Total was $103.78 CND. If I had spent 48 hours in the states it would have only been the $78.20 as there are no border charges but I am not exactly going to plan a three day holiday around saving 29 bucks.

Later: Visited again today and noticed the returns sorting room at the back and its impressive dusty collection of unreturnables. Spot any favorites?



Local TV Dies A Little More

It had been getting a bit crappier than I was comfortable with lately due to cuts but Clear Channel affiliate WWTI ABC announced today that it was cutting its 6 pm and 11 pm news broadcasts to focus on hourly updates and weather…oh, and the internet. [I think they will be investing in the use of technology – wizards!]   Just a year and a bit ago, they had an hour and a half of local Watertown, NY news and sports every evening at 6 pm and more at 11 pm with a special Friday night high school sportscast called the Sportsblitz…or rather the Sportsblitz.

Now, the best source of corny local sports is gone. How will I know how Lafargeville or Pulaski do in high school lacrosse next spring?  How will I follow Sackets in the Class K, Division XXIV NY state boys basketball regionals?   Why do I care? Through my life, local TV news has going the way of other slowly dying things. In the good old days, CBC Halifax TV in the ’70’s had the resources to do news broadcasts from Tomaso’s pizza and other wacky places and WLBZ Bangor brought Dick Stacey’s Country Jamboree to the Maritimes via cable TV (blogged about here…it even made The Christian Science Monitor), Wingham Ontario’s CKNX-TV in the 1980’s did a feature on my brother in law and his chicken that would ride on his bike handlebars, Pembroke CHRO-TV in the ’90’s, now an Ottawa station, covered the local court scene I was working in. It is not entirely over as Kingston still has an hour of local CKWS news at 6 pm and another half hour at 11 pm and Watertown NY still has one local TV newscast on WWNY-TV but they are affiliates using a lot of national feeds and the local hokey sportscasts are the first to go.

Sad.  We’ll all eat the same cheese from squeeze tubes by the time I am 83.


One thing about growing up Canadian, you have a sneaking suspicion that you have missed out big time on the whole BBQ ribs thing. You can brag about Canadian beer, about how its a dry cold so you should suck it up or how watching hockey is sooooo much better than any other team sport but then you remember how all those things would be improved by a pile o ‘ribs and you know something is missing. In this morning’s New York Times there is a description of New Yorkers lining up at a ribs-fest:

In New York, demand for great barbecue tends to outstrip supply. A few weekends ago, thousands of ‘cue-seekers descended on Madison Square Park for the Second Annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, hoping for a shot at Mike Mills’s Memphis baby backs and Ed Mitchell’s North Carolina ribs. The lines were epic. Some waited it out. Many fled to nearby Blue Smoke, figuring that New York barbecue is better than no barbecue at all. And quite a few — present company included — hopped on the subway to Chinatown and sated the craving with a huge pile of Cantonese spareribs.

I know that fever, BBQ rib fever.   Apparently, I live 2 and a half hours north of a very legitimate ribs joint, the Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse but it  looks too bikerish for the kiddie set.  Regardless, we are not going that far south this weekend, heading for Oswego checking out the canal, Fort Ontario and Rudy’s, more of a fish joint on the beach, an inland Bill’s. The Kingston Brewpub does a very nice smoked ribs but they are not cheap and not plenty. My ideals would be like the lobster feeds of youth, picnic table covered with newspapers and piled with red sea spiders. Does such a ribs place exist in Canada?

Wuzza Hot?

So we are back from being over the border, having had a great time. I took some movies to be posted later of the Battle of Ogdensburg recreation which are fairly neat – if seeing grown men dressed up funny shooting cannon within town limits is cool to you.

But as I was driving through east end Ogdensburg, New York, I noticed this. What is a “Hot” that you could win first prize for? The particular outlet for them is called Whimpy’s Inn.

Battle of Ogdensburg

We are heading over to beautiful Ogdensburg, 100 km down river on the USA side, for the 14th. Beats the hell out of the Valentine’s Day when myself and herself were amazed at the easy access to the coin laundry machines before we remembered the date.

It is not the reopening of the cheese plant that attracts us. No. It’s the nutty recreationists dressing up like 1812 soldiers for the annual Battle of Ogdensburg re-enactment. Here is the contemporary British view of events. Apparently a group of Newfoundlanders were key to the victory. Here is an American perspective. Pretty big battle with 800 redcoats involved on a direct attack on a US village and fort. Here is a map of the battle. Canadian re-enactors as well as US take part. The area had a mid-1700s French presence and only became the USA in 1796 when the British retreated after the Jay Treaty.

Later St. Lawrence University will play host to Vermont at Canton in NCAA hockey – fewer guns but more real fights.

Men at Serious Play

So we went over to St. Lawrence County, New York, on Saturday to catch a War of 1812 re-enactment of the Battle of Ogdensburg organized by a local group, Forsyth’s Rifles Inc.. We were not disappointed. I had never been to one of these things before – other than being a mock soldier at Citidel Hill in Halifax for one day (I got sun stroke in the shade) – and so in had some pre-conceptions that, on one hand, it would be like a radio nerd convention and, on the other, a bit gungho.

It was neither. About 60 guys, who could very well have been all high school history from either side of the river/border, played out the actual battle with some authenticity for over about an hour. They were quite happy to answer all questions and made sure everyone kep a safe distance. The grey-coated British advanced over the ice in formation, cannons roared from both sides and fifes were played. It was quite cold and a couple guys said they were considering taking Walmart and holding it instead.

I wrote earlier this month on the events and provided links in that post. A year later in the War of 1812, the USA invaded Eastern Ontario and got hammered at Chrysler’s Farm where a much smaller force protected Montreal against 8000 soldiers (including the real Forsyth’s unit) coming up the river from Sackett’s Harbor. There is a bigger re-enactment in summer of that battle which we will likely take in. The Ogdensburg guys head over for that.

Some short movies of the action – all around 2 Mbs so expect some delay

The fifes play as the battle nears
The US forces march out to meet the Brits
a US cannon fires
The US musketmen are ordered to fire at will – note small Brit snowshoe unit coming up to the left in trees

Please give me a heads up if any of the links in the multi-media post do not work.