Allentown Fair

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“Due to the Coronavirus” (how many times have I heard, read, or written these words in the past four months?), The Great Allentown Fair will not be held this year.  That is the announcement that came just this past week.  So the Fair became just another of the many casualties that has been canceled this summer.

But the announcement did jog my memory about past Fairs.  A couple of weeks ago, I reminisced about some of my trials and tribulations in broadcasting my very first soccer match (Reflection #1 – 7/6/20).  I promised I might do a bit more career reflections since the sports news these days is quite sparse.  So I now turn my attention to The Great Allentown Fair.

I used to do reports from the Fair every year.  I would do a five-minute interview with celebrities, midway acts, and visitors every half hour in a three-hour span.  In between, we would present a taping of some of the Fair attractions – I remember doing the Demolition Derby, for example.  The LIVE interviews did not always go as planned.

I interviewed Tony Orlando and Dawn at the peak of their careers (“Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree”) on the midway.  I don’t remember the interview as much as the crowd simply crushing me and them once people realized they had actually come out to the midway to talk to me.  It was both frightening and exciting.  They just took it in stride.  They were used to fame – I didn’t know what fame was.

I interviewed Liza Minnelli, but she set some very strict boundaries, one of which was that she would not be interviewed in the midway.  I talked to her on the track of the stage area.  She seemed a bit standoffish, seemed a bit bored, but I filled the five minutes, probably with some inane questions.

The midway acts always provided the most interesting five minutes.  I’ll start with what I call the “-est” interviews.  I spoke with the World’s Ugliest Man.  He was a rather portly fellow and actually not that ugly.  I mentioned that to him as if he was erroneously promoting himself.  At that point, he took his bottom lip and completely covered his nose with it.  That, indeed, created ugliness.

I interviewed the World’s Youngest Snake Charmer. She was a cute four-year-old.   I had to kneel to talk to her.  She gave plenty of cute answers and then a young man came and handed her a blanket.  Once the blanket was removed, there was a six-foot python in her hands.  Since it is hard to run when kneeling, I asked her if the snake might hurt her as it was beginning to slither towards my microphone hand.  She responded in her very cute voice, “No, it won’t hurt me (pause), but it might hurt you!”  Suffice it to say, I don’t believe I filled the full five minutes.

Next was the World’s Fattest Woman and she was, hoping not to sound insensitive, very fat.  She weighed about 600 pounds and had recently gotten out of a hospital in Pittsburgh for an appendix operation.  I asked her about that and she said the hospital had to get a lift just to put her in a bed, cut into her very thick layer of fat, remove her appendix, and sew well over 100 stitches to close the incision.  I found it to be a very sad story, but she was happy to be back to work.

The Fair is an agricultural as well as entertainment venue.  One of my more interesting moments was when I talked to kids who were 4H Club winners for raising goats.  There were three or four young people with an equal number of goats.  As I was talking to the Club members, the goats began to chew on my sport coat.  They were attempting to devour the material.  I was trying to carry on a conversation.  Then, one goat decided that the microphone cord looked rather appetizing.  He began to chew on the cord.  I would hold the mike out to get an answer and the goat would grab it in his teeth and yank it as hard as he could.  It sounds funny now, but having your clothes being destroyed and risking electrocuting a goat was not my idea of fun.

I will leave you with, perhaps, the best answer I ever received to one of my questions.  Years ago, the Fair, like many fairs around the country, also, offered some more adult entertainment.  The producer had lined up an interview with one of the exotic dancers who was performing on the midway.  She was scantily clad as we began our conversation and I immediately recognized that this was going to be a difficult five minutes.  The young lady only gave me one word or very short answers to my questions.  Do you know how many questions you have to ask in five minutes if the responses are so short?  My mind was racing as I tried to come up with a question that needed a longer response.  I finally asked, “I’m sure the viewers at home would like to know what a typical day is like for you at the Fair.”  She looked at me as if she did not quite understand the question so I repeated it.  “What is a typical day like for you at the Fair?”

She answered, “Monday”.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. MLB teams are filling their seats with cutouts of their fans. The Brewers sold out their first 500 and are selling another 500.  The price seems to be @ $150-$300 and the “fans” will be positioned so the cutouts show up during the broadcasts.  Crowd noise will also be piped in.
  1. The Canadian federal government will not allow the Toronto Blue Jays to play in Toronto this baseball season. They reason that because the team will have to cross the border into the US on a number of occasions and opposing teams would have to come into Canada (some with very high infection rates), they would risk bringing the virus back to Canada.  They need to find an American venue.
  1. MLB baseball starts this week and the Phillies find themselves in the toughest division for sure. Despite their talent, where will they finish with the Nationals, Braves, Mets, and Marlins battling against them?  Add to that challenge they must play the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, Blue Jays, and the Orioles in the inter-league match-ups. It should make for great competition.
  1. It is beginning to look more likely that there will not be a college football season this fall. The Ivy League, Patriot League, PSAC have all canceled their fall sports.  The major colleges have shortened seasons as of now, but might curtail them altogether in the next few weeks.
  1. The PIAA this week said that fall sports, including football, will go on as scheduled. They will meet again in early August.  Might they change their mind?

 

 

Gary Laubach About Gary Laubach

Gary began his broadcasting career with Twin County in 1972. Twin County eventually became C-TEC and then RCN. Gary holds the dual role of Director of Media Services and Sports Director/Broadcaster. He currently broadcasts about 140 sports and entertainment broadcasts a year, and oversees the scheduling of all sporting events for RCN.

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