Having no fair seems unfair
I was dead set against going.
But now I want to go.
The drive is a hassle. I don’t eat enough deep-fried things on a stick to make the journey worthwhile. For those who do, I recommend eating the stick for the fiber. There are too many people there. A joke that’s been around since before 1900, later credited to Yogi Berra, was, “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”
Yogi said he said that, but his wife told him he hadn’t. As a long-married man, I’m astounded that a wife would contradict her loving man. I digress.
There are so many people there, but the odd thing is that I go there for the people.
I will not be borne up on the wings of the State Fair this year. It’s been canceled. Many other options have been removed. I don’t blame anyone for caking things off. I’ll be another sailor weathering a heavy sea without fair weather on the horizon. To some, the best part of the Fair was when entering the gate. To others, the best was when leaving the gate. A few consider it a gas station restroom with livestock, but to most, it’s terrific. The Minnesota State Fair is “The Great Minnesota Get-Together,” except this year. It’s the largest state fair in the U.S. by average daily attendance. Two million fairgoers stagger the grounds trying to find either an antacid stand or more room in a stomach while trying to remember where they’d parked their cars.
I like the Fair. It gives me plenty to like. I want to turn off the world and turn it back on again. Maybe rebooting would return things to normal. Whatever normal is.
I never say “ain’t.” My teachers saw to that, but it seemed right here. It’s unfair, but the Fair ain’t what it ain’t. The Hall of Fame pitcher Dizzy Dean became a broadcaster and irritated some by saying “ain’t” frequently. He responded with, “A lot of folks who ain’t sayin’ ‘ain’t,’ ain’t eatin’.”
There aren’t many Minnesotans who don’t enjoy a Sweet Martha’s cookie. We used to hold an annual meeting in a telephone booth. We stopped when we couldn’t find a phone booth. I’ve nothing against Sweet Martha. I don’t like any kind of chocolate chip cookie. It’s one of a multitude of my character flaws. I don’t feel guilty as Sweet Martha does OK without my business. Another reason I don’t care for Sweet Martha’s Cookies is that I’m not that fond of standing in line. Oh, I’ve stood forever in a queue at the State Fair to buy chocolate-covered potato chips for my mother-in-law, but that’s different. Sweet Martha’s is popular beyond belief. Sweet Martha’s sells a million cookies each day at the Fair. That sounds like a lot, but remember there are three locations on the fairgrounds. The enterprise goes through 54 tons of chocolate chips each year at the Fair. Sweet Martha’s Cookies grosses $4.73 million a year. For $17 you get a pail of four dozen cookies. Sweet Martha’s is a fine Minnesota business. The Minnesota State Fair is the only fair it can be found at and it employs a plethora of people. For those who need Sweet Martha’s Cookies, the cookie dough can be found in grocery stores. But we don’t need the fair pounds. We have sheltering-at-home pounds.
It’s always uphill leaving the fair. Exhaustion makes me feel as if I’m climbing the high points in the township. I call them the Funny Mountains because they’re hill areas.
I’ve worked at the State Fair many times; including a record-setting attendance day, which has since been surpassed. I’ve walked the grounds on muggy days, feeling like a walking compost pile. There are too many people there. Yet, I go for the people. It’s fun seeing old friends, meeting new folks and people watching.
Nothing against the State Fair, but I prefer to spend my time at county fairs. I’ve been everything from a superintendent to a storyteller to a volunteer to a chainsaw juggler at fairs. I didn’t really juggle chainsaws. I juggled popcorn boxes and blueberry malts. Small-town celebrations are wonderful. When I was twitterpated teen, I referred to them as “two sick chickens and a tractor that won’t start.” That was said in jest. I loved those gatherings and still do. Sadly, most of them have been canceled.
I recall a memorable day of B.B. King and Etta James in concert at the State Fair grandstand.
This year, the grandstand will be a homestand.
© Al Batt 2020
1. In 1982, the California Angels retired No. 26 in honor of the Major League Baseball franchise’s first owner. Who was he?
2. In Super Bowl XXVII, the Dallas Cowboys’ Leon Lett was enroute to a fumble return touchdown, but he had the ball swatted away before he crossed the goal line, resulting in a touchback. What speedy Buffalo Bills receiver forced Lett’s fumble?
3. In the final round of the 1995 Open Championship, what Italian golfer sunk a 60-foot putt on the 18th hole to force a playoff with eventual winner John Daly?
4. In what team sport would you find two “bails” balanced atop three stumps?
5. How many home runs did Jose Canseco’s identical twin brother, Ozzie, hit during his 24 Major League Baseball game appearances?
6. Syracuse University basketball standout Rony Seikaly was the first draft pick ever selected by what NBA expansion team in 1988?
7. In 1999, the New Orleans Saints traded eight draft picks to the Washington Redskins in order to select what Heisman Trophy winner from the University of Texas?
1. Gene Autry.
2. Don Beebe.
3. Costantino Rocca.
6. The Miami Heat.
7. Ricky Williams.
© 2020 King Features Synd., Inc.
This is a calendar year unlike any we’ve experienced, regardless of age or generation. Pick a subject. Pandemic, racism, police brutality, record unemployment, stock market dive and rise and all sports professional and collegiate, wiped off the schedule. The latest punch in the gut are charges of racial disparity inside the Iowa football program. There isn’t enough space in this article to address all of these subjects, so let me focus on the one I know best.
I’ve been around and involved with Hawkeye football for all of Coach Kirk Ferentz’s twenty one years. I’ve attended hundreds of practices, been at the microphone for roughly two hundred fifty games, emceed all the football banquets and I-Club golf outings and interviewed hundreds of players, black and white. My conversations with coaches and players have always centered on last week’s result and this week’s opponent, scouting reports and injury updates. Never once did it dawn on me to ask an African American athlete if he felt he was being demeaned or suppressed in expressing himself regarding his culture or tradition. All I typically heard was how Iowa has been a great experience. Big Ten, big time program with great facilities, great fans and a wonderful education. Iowa IS all those things but with hidden problems. Until now. Recently close to fifty current and former Hawkeyes have alleged racial disparities among other issues with Iowa football, many connected to the now departed strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle.
Chris Doyle came to Iowa City with Kirk Ferentz. He’s widely regarded as the best in the business at developing under-recruited players and transforming them into NFL 1st round draft picks. Many of whom become superstars. See Bob Sanders, Chad Greenway, Dallas Clark, Mike Daniels, Robert Gallery, Brandon Scherff and George Kittle. Ferentz gave Chris Doyle total autonomy over that weight room and training program. After review, Ferentz has admitted he had a blind spot with several areas of the program, perhaps too trusting and has vowed to be more open to his players and fix what’s wrong going
forward. I believe him. There is no one that deserves a chance to repair the damage done, more than Kirk Ferentz. He remains a class, quality individual
whose charity and civic mindedness extends well beyond the public eye.
The conversations we are having at the University of Iowa are going on inside campuses all over this country. They should be happening in our living rooms as well.
“THANK YOU” to ALL my READERS!
Maury, this “#100 Non Memory” is special because it’s with a great and wonderful feeling that I dedicate this to all my readers. If it weren’t for them, and my wonderful publishers, Rudy and Joan Bellmann, there would be no Memories! It wasn’t until you were age six or seven that Grandpa started doing them on a regular monthly basis for “The Golden View.” And now you are fifteen!
Many times I am genuinely amazed, over the years, by the number of phone calls I receive because of them. Here’s only one example: A few years ago I did one of my Memories with the title “Buck Yelled Abie!” A brief synopsis is that Buck Herzog, a well-known Dubuque athlete, and I knew each other in high school. Sixty-four years ago he was responsible for arranging that I would come home from the service on the same Navy ship with him. That was the last time I saw or heard from him until he telephoned me from his home in Wisconsin only two years ago because his niece, who lives in Dubuque, sent him “The Golden View” article! Needless to say we had a happy reunion on the telephone!
What keeps me going, Maury, is you and all your great cousins plus the responsiveness of the vast readership of “The Golden View!”
Much love, Grandpa