Street Talk: 174th Vt. State Fair wraps

Stephanie Wissel, Castleton

We are exhibiting our 4-H members and their equine partners, and their exhibiting in everything from fitting to showmanship, to equitation, to pleasure and other 4-H activities. It’s been a lot of fun. We’ve had a lot of visitors, and we’re enjoying our new facility.

Lonna Kantorski, Smitty’s, Rutland

For us, it’s going quite well. We’re very pleased, but the weather has a lot to do with it, and there’s a little more activity down at this end, so it’s been very good for us. We’re happy. With the demolition derby, we know it always brings a bit crowd, so that’s very pleasing to us. Everything we do, we time around — especially on Saturday — around the demolition derby, so I would expect a big crowd tonight because it’s Saturday night, and this is a motor sport city or town, or county, however, and I would expect a big crowd tonight. Anything to do with a motor sport, they love.

Dennis Ward, Granite Falls, Washington

RH: You’ve been traveling around the country, and you just happened upon this fair.

DW: Yes, I saw it on the internet that it was here the 13th through the 17th, and we thought we could make it, and we did. We finally came in Friday night, the 16th, and we got a campsite here for a couple of nights. Saturday we got to see the whole fair.

RH: Well, they’re right over there.

DW: We’re right next to them. We watched them, we watched the girls in the 4-H get all dressed up and do their riding. The dog arena was right there in front of us. They were doing herding shows yesterday, and that’s something I’d never seen before. Like I say, we have fairs in Washington, a few of them are smaller, and we’ve got one or two bigger ones. We’ve enjoyed it. We love fairs.

RH: Where do you head from here?

DW: We’re going over to the coast of Maine. Wife wants to see Acadia, we want to see Acadia, so we’re going to go over to the coast of Maine, and then we’ll be coming back across, I suppose, to New Hampshire and Vermont to New York, and she wants to see Niagara Falls, so we’ll go to Niagara Falls, then we’re headed down to Ohio to see the niece and her husband. We’ll probably head home from there.

Jay Meyer, PinkHeals, Putney

(The firetruck) wasn’t pink when I got it. My 81-year-old father and I drove to Washington Courthouse, Ohio, and bought this truck and drove it home. We paid $2,000 for the truck and $2,300 to fix the radiator. It runs very well for an old girl. PinkHeals was founded by a retired firefighter out of Glendale, Arizona. He got frustrated with the fact that firefighters are always being asked for donations for this, that and the other thing, and he was at a fire one day, and a woman came out to watch the firefighters do their thing, and she (told them) she couldn’t get a wig. And that just really upset him that someone in his community, where he’s giving all these donations away, and she couldn’t get a wig. She was going through chemo. He was at home lying on his couch and he dreamed up these pink firetrucks, driving around the country supporting the women in our communities. ... I do home visits. If you’ve got someone in your community who’s going through something, and they’re having a rough time of things, people can reach out to me via Facebook, and I’m more than happy to arrange a home visit, where we go right up to their front door, lights and sirens some of the times, and I tell the people, hey, I’m Jay from Putney. I came up here to tell you I love you. ... I don’t get paid to do this, not one thin dime. I get paid by the hugs that people give me.

Jeryn Mawson, Holyoke, Mass.

It’s gone pretty well. It was slow the first few days, but it’s definitely picked up the past couple of days. It went well. I liked it. For our first year here, it’s been good. I mean, the people here are nice, the ones that have the buildings that stay around, and they open every year, they’re really sweet, and we’ve traded with a few people and met some nice folks that do the fair every year. The security’s very nice, and the police officers that were here were nice to us. This is our first year here. We usually do music festivals. We sell coffee. We go to New York and Rhode Island.

William Street, Rutland

RH: Tell me again what they could do out at the fair to make it better?

WS: Well, they could bring back the (BMX) bike racing, have go-cart racing and bring back the sulky racing. It helps the elderly people with heating and stuff. And like I said, so vendors will come in, they could lower the rent they got to pay. They should have taken the old drive-in property, made it into an amusement park. They could’ve had that going all summer long. But they didn’t. And the buildings are all empty.

Randy ‘Pappy’ Rhen, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

I met a lot of good people, I had a good time. I enjoy traveling around, meeting new people, doing a lot of cool stuff, checking out the towns. I’ve been doing this for 33 years now. We have a bunkhouse back here, we got a room, TV, a shower unit, yeah, so we’ve got it made, central air conditioning.

RH: Thirty-three years you’ve been a carney. You mind that word, “carney?”

RR: No, no, no, I don’t mind. Actually, I use the word “showman.” A carney to me is a guy that’s dirty, that don’t respect nothing. A showman has more respect. I go to a bar in these towns, I’ll sit down, have a few drinks and have a good time. A carney, he’ll go in and trash the place.

Visit bit.ly/0824StateFair for more pictures and audio interviews.

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