Wednesday, August 3, 2016

How to do a review, and a review of the Schoharie County Sunshine Fair

I have had many people ask me how to write a review for a fair or festival that they attended, so this week’s post I originally was going to discuss how to do that.  It was by chance, I heard about a local fair called the Schoharie County Sunshine Fair, so I decided to attend it.
Instead of just switching topics and doing a review of this fair, I thought I would combine both into a unique discussion; How to do a review for a fair, at the same time, I do a review of the Schoharie County Sunshine Fair.
You might ask why it is important, or even necessary to do a review, and also the importance of steps. First, the people who put on these events have worked hard to organize them. If you do not do a review, and not get the word out about them, then this hard work is for nothing. I believe, as authors and bloggers, it is important for us not just to write about topics about us, but to share our talents as writers and help promote the works of others.
I first must say, you are a reviewer, not a critic.  Everything has a good and a bad, look for the good and maximize it and minimize the bad.
So here are some steps for reviewing, and how I described them in my review of the Schoharie County Sunshine Fair       .
Step 1- Give some background. A review is like a novel, give your event a back story. You might have to do some research, but this section establishes that you are familiar with the topic you are discussing. I would suggest doing this research before you go to the event or fair, this will allow you to decide which activities there you want to see.
Over this past week, I attended the Schoharie County Sunshine Fair. This is an agricultural fair, which technically is an exhibition of livestock and agricultural products, it also features entertainment and educational displays.  There is no historical account who came up with, or why, the nickname Sunshine fair, but it has stuck. This is the 139th year this fair has been held.
Step 2- Give a physical description of the fair.  An event is like a living person, it has characteristics, and emotions.  Look for its uniqueness and opening describe them.
The fairgrounds consist of 25 buildings and a 3,000 seat grandstand and a newly built horse arena.  The area itself is not that large compared to other fairs, but this is not a hindrance and allows you to easily travel from one area to another.
The fair itself is located in the town of Cobleskill, NY.  If you decide to go to Cobleskill, I guarantee you one of the most spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
Step 3 – Describe some of the places, or people you have seen there.  This is a hard step, for it means you must decide who and who not to include into your post.  It is a judgment call, and you must make it for you will not have space to include everyone in one post. I usually describe the specific people or events which has the most impact upon me at the event. Whenever possible include a link to their website or homepage, if they have none, list some basic info about them.
There was a section of this fair entitled Heritage Village on the Green.  Here were located numerous artists and craftsmen, each one engaged in older skills and occupations.
Ram’s Head Forge, out of San Antonio Florida (352) 521-3515.  Lewis Riggleman is an excellent blacksmith. It was a privilege to see him working.

Roger the Giant Bowl Turner ( aka Roger Abrahamson)  Using traditional methods he makes traditional wooden bowls. He likes to answer any questions the visitors at the fair might have, he is truly knowledgeable and a wonderful craftsman.  His particular passion was making Norwegian ceremonial bowls.

I did enjoy seeing some attractions while I was at the fair:
Eudora Farms is a small animal exhibition.  Here you can pet, or feed, animals like zebras, yaks, goats and other animals.  There was one animal, the African Watusi (aka Ankole-Watusi), which I have never seen before.  Check out the picture below, it does not do the justice about how big his horns actually are.
Check out the size of those horns

I also was able to get some wonderful food while I was at the fair.
I got a pulled pork sandwich at High Hog BBQ. It was very good and at a very reasonable price.
Before I left, I got couple bag of kettle corn from Valentine’s Kettle Corn. I was unaware how many flavors of kettle corn there was, but they seemed to have them all.
The great staff at Valentine's Kettle Corn

Step 4-Take pictures if appropriate. Pictures help describe what you are discussing, and will give your post a sense of realism, emphasizing that you indeed was at that event.
At the Schoharie County Sunshine Fair they had:
and of course, Rides
Step 5 - Didn’t include someone, at least show where your reader can find them. For some events, there is a website listing all the vendors or acts who were participating at that fair.  Give the ones you did not list some promotion by directing your readers to a link which lists all of them.
Like many county fairs there were so many activities, entertainment and vendors I did not get a chance to see.  Please check out the website and check these great exhibits entertainers and activities.
Step 6- Wrap it up. Give some final information about the event. It is also the time to mention to your readers about attending this fair or event.
The Schoharie County Sunshine Fair is a wonderful time for anyone visiting the area. Like most fairs you will be entertained, and educated by the wonderful rides, artists and craftsmen at the fair.
I hope you have enjoyed my discussion about writing a review for an event or fair. Remember, we choose to go to these occasions and happenings, so be pleasant, and be respectful when you describe it.
Next week:  A preview of the Saratoga Springs International Film Festival and maybe a Renaissance Fair.

W.A. Rusho is a professional wrestler, historian, and author of the novel “Legend of the Mystic Knights”. The previous publisher of this novel is no longer in business, and so he is actively seeking a literary agent or publisher. If you wish to contact him, email him, or visit his website.


  1. The Schoharie County Sunshine Fair sounds like a wonderful community event, William. Anything with "sunshine" in the name catches my attention! Thx for sharing your review tips.

  2. I love this. It's very helpful for reviewing fairs and other events. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Good points about how to write a review. Same goes if you are writing an article for a newspaper or magazine about any event.

  4. Fun post, William. I like how you combined the how to with the review. This coming Sunday's blog is about an upcoming festival in Pittsburgh--Little Italy Days. I may go back and add some things after reading this!

  5. You have broken this down in small bitesize chunks. It is important when writing an article, to capture details that people actually want to read and to "sell" the event to readers.

  6. A very thoughtful approach to reviewing a fair. In your reviews what I always appreciate most is the little mini-profiles of some of the people who are part of the fair. It is what makes a fair unique and distinctive.

  7. Thanks for the great info on writing a review. I've never written one before so this is very informative. I always enjoy your reviews. I wish I didn't live so far away so I could get to one of these events. But at least I can live vicariously through your experiences.

  8. A couple of suggestions:
    (1) You may want to provide the reader with some specific cost information: Did the fair have an admission charge, and if so, what was it? How much were tickets for rides? What did you pay for that pulled pork sandwich?
    (2) Depending on how sociable you are, you may want to strike up conversations with other attendees and ask them what THEY found impactful about the fair.

    1. Usually I do include the costs, but including "how to" kind of limited me with space.
      Also, it is not me to be able to start a conversation with others.