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All fairs the same to Jean Shepherd
Airdate: Thursday - September 1, 1977

Last Update: 05-09-2019

Show Description
FLEMINGTON - "There is really only one fair." Jean Shepherd said yesterday looking at the hubbub of "carnies" hawking games and rides, and it never changes. Only the names of the towns change." Shepherd claimed the name "Flemington" was only incidental to "The Fair" which could be seen in Goshen, N.Y., Skowhegan, Me., or any other town In the U.S. A young man operating the "short-range rifle" game was asked if he knew where he was. After a pause he said he was at the Flemington Fair and he was headed for a fair in Wilton. N.C. when this one was over. A young woman operating the computer astrology booth could not say where she was. Taken aback, her father told her she was in Flemington. Waving at the "carnies," Shepherd said, "If you ask these people, they didn't know what town they're in from one day to the next. All 4-H'ers look the same. I've never seen a cow that looked any different. Have you?" The writer, humorist and radio and television personality was at the fair with a New Jersey Public Television film crew which was looking disconsolately at an overcast sky. Shepherd said he was gathering "a collage" of New Jersey's summer fairs which would appear one day on his program, "Shepherd's Pie." His crew spent about two hours at the Ferris wheel as Shepherd was photographed at the top of the wheel and panoramic shots were made of the crowds below. Only about five minutes of the Flemington Fair will remain in the extensive color film footage expended. A crewman said, "Shepherd's a prima donna. It takes about an hour to shoot anything that might take 15 minutes with someone else." Pointing over at the Raritan Township Fire Company's game, where a well-aimed baseball hitting a lever topples a girl into a tub of water, he said. "That's known as a 'bozo joint' because there used to be a clown sitting in the 'tip' seat." Kathy Kerr of High Bridge was sitting on the tip seat yesterday. The food concessions are generally called "grab joints" In "carny" lingo, the writer added. Shepherd ended his radio talk show with WOR last April after many years. His older listeners tended to take his reminiscences literally, but "10-year-old kids knew it was all fiction." "No," Shepherd said, "I was not born in Hammond, Ind. I was born in Chicago.'' No, he did not have an uncle who lost his welfare teeth down an airshaft. Yes, he once worked in a steel mill in Hammond. Yes, he did get to the 1939 New York World's Fair and saw its "Magic Mountain," which he described to his radio audience. Yes, he did narrate a film on the Raritan Canal, but had nothing to do with the script. He insisted, despite his vivid and realistic portrayals of army life, that most of his radio material was "fiction all fiction" derived from close observation of people. "The problem Is today people find it harder and harder to separate fact from fiction." Shepherd said most of his material deals with "average American life'' and "American Ritual." When last seen, Shepherd was deep in conversation with his producers, pulling on his pipe, wearing a waist length rain jacket with the words "Jack Daniels" on it and a button pinned to the jacket which read "Go forward with Stevenson and Sparkman."
Fan Description
[ Courtesy: Steve Glazer - 05-09-2019 ] Shep was filming at the Flemington Fair in New Jersey on Wednesday, August 31, 1977.


Filming was used on the December 29, 1977 episode of Shepherd's Pie - "The Country Faire" He also used an earlier visit (1969) to write his Playboy short story - "County Fair"
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September 01,1977
The Courier News

Courtesy: Steve Glazer

Airdate History ' - Original' date is earliest known broadcast)
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