The state fair is known for many things, but probably not boat launches. That’s what happened Thursday at the new pond on the western end of the fairgrounds. Richard Bush launched a hand-made kayak he and dozens of fairgoers helped to build during the first half of the fair. It’s part of a family boat building class he coordinates at the H. Lee White Maritime Museum in Oswego.
"They're simple designs, easy to construct, and anyone can do it. A positive attitude is all you need. We'll work with the rest. We provide the tools, you provide the time, and you get a boat."
Bush says workers range in age from 6 to 87, and hundreds of people stop by per day. The next boat is well underway. New York Sea Grant Recreation Specialist Dave White says the water feature opens up several opportunities to showcase history, shipwrecks, boating, and safety that they didn't have at their former location at the reflecting pond in the state park exhibit.
"It's a nice draw for folks. We can show water recreation, we can have the ROV buoy in the water [water drone]. We're looking toward next year and the years out to say, with the maritime history exhibit, how can we build upon this. We're talking with our diving partners that are part the shipwreck exhibit about doing some diving.”
White himself demonstrated safety gear on an inflatable paddleboard. Another showed the effectiveness of certain life jackets.
"Type 3 life jackets: You'll note that it doesn't support your head. If you've been knocked out, you're unconscious, it is not going to right you. So if you end up face down, Mike, if you'll demonstrate the face down float for me please, you'll notice it doesn't pull his head out of the water.”
The Pathway to Maritime History, Waterways of War, and Boat Building exhibits are located just off the pond not far from gate 6 on the western end of the fairgrounds.