By JOHN BORGOLINI
FONDA - "High and dry."
Steve Eckhard of Syracuse tries to hit the target at the JM Entertainment dunk booth Saturday at the Fonda Fair as Matthew Koch eggs him on from inside the booth. (The Leader-Herald/John Borgolini)
Those three words were heard Saturday at the Fonda Fair, directed at people hurling baseballs at a small red target and hoping to be rewarded with a satisfying splash from the dunk tank.
Nobody who walked past Matthew Koch was off limits Saturday at the fair, as he questioned the strength and aim of potential customers.
Men, woman and children of all ages and sizes were called out by Koch at Jaime Vosburgh's JM Entertainment dunk tank.
The man behind the microphone fired such quips as "I bet your son can throw better than you" and "You better get 12 balls, because you're gonna need them."
Koch, a Gloversville resident, said he knows what prompts people to step up to the dunk tank, but he doesn't use foul language or make his remarks too personal.
"The bald-headed jokes, 'their wife throws better than them' gets them over here," he said. "I really don't know what's out of line [besides] being disrespectful - calling them names and cussing. That would be out of line."
When a tosser steps up, the taunts continue, with Koch telling adults their kids should to show them how to throw.
Koch got a little worried after John Polikowski stepped up and hurled three balls that immediately dropped him and nine more throws remained.
"I think I ran my mouth too much," Koch said. "He dunked me three times, but hey, it's part of the game. I talked my smack, and he came through and dunked me three times like he said he was going to do. I'm glad the customer was happy, and he walked away happy. That means a lot to me."
Polikowski said he was just having fun with his tosses, but he admitted it was "cool" to hear Koch say he picked on the wrong guy.
Vosburgh, who runs the booth at several local events and comes from Herkimer County, said he has never experienced any real trouble as he and others have mocked fairgoers.
He said most people understand that it's all in the fun spirit of the dunk tank, and the man behind the microphone is just doing his job. And in order to do his job, the high-and-dry taunter has a seemingly simple rule.
"The name of the game is to keep them coming back, to keep drawing them in," Vosburgh said.
Final days of fair
The Fonda Fair will continue today and conclude Monday.
Today's events will include a Western horse show, an ADGA truck-in goat show, the 4-H Dairy Challenge, a semi truck show and pull, a bicycle giveaway, the 4-H Master Showman of Fair Contest, semi and modified truck championships and a fireworks show.
Monday will feature an open draft animal show, the Good Ol' Days Parade, the 4-H Livestock & Dairy Awards Ceremony and two demolition derbies. Admission to the fair will be free before noon Monday.
John Borgolini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.