SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Elizabeth “Beth” Baldwin admits it was hard packing up her booth at the New York State Fair this past weekend, taking down memorial photos of women who died from breast cancer.
“I have much more bigger things to do,” Baldwin explains in an exclusive interview with NewsChannel 9. “(Like) sit with people when they’re having chemo, get them into doctors, sit with them when they’re dying, on their last breath, and I’m arguing over a six-cent can.”
Beth Baldwin explained her decision to pull her mom’s charity, the Baldwin Fund, out of the New York State Fair, after having a booth for 33 years.
She made the announcement on The Baldwin Fund’s Facebook page, writing “I can no longer stand for the changes being made by the leaders at the State Fair.”
She shared more detail in an exclusive interview with NewsChannel 9.
For the past few years, outside the booth, the Carol Baldwin Fund has taken care of the State Fair’s recycling, collecting bottles and cans in pink garbage bins in exchange for the proceeds of the deposit returns.
Some years, the program resulted in as much as $50,000 in proceeds that were all donated to the Upstate Cancer Center.
“All of a sudden this year,” Baldwin explains, “I’m getting ready to do it. Nobody is making appointments… They’re saying they’re working on it, but it can’t go the way that it was before.”
Specifically, how it’s staffed. Previously, she provided volunteers to empty the bins. Last year, it was the Fair’s staff.
“People are telling me they have to go to the lawyers from the state and the lawyers are going to put something together, how we need to do this for it to be legal. So I didn’t even know it was right or wrong or whatever last year,” said Baldwin.
For eight months, Baldwin worked on solutions, but feels it was never satisfactory to the State. After being handed a contract she couldn’t agree to, Baldwin decided it was over.
Baldwin said: “I’m not just taking a stand for me. I’m taking a stand for the non-communication and mistreatment of everybody that’s in that Fair.”
As she was speaking, Baldwin’s phone rang. It was her brother, Alec Baldwin.
Joining the interview via telephone, Alec Baldwin compares the New York State Fair to New York City’s Feast of San Gennaro.
He feels both are slowly putting profits over their commitments to locally-grown vendors.
“The local homegrown people are not being taken care of, as far as I’m concerned,” said Alec Baldwin.
He feels his mom’s charity was slighted.
“For this organization to represent what it means in the hearts and minds of Central New York,” Alec Baldwin says, “and to have them treated this way… no priority given to the local groups, to me the local groups should get the priority.”
“There’s an obligation for the Fair to honor its past, ” said Alec Baldwin.
A spokesperson for the State Fair said its policy not to comment on contracts with individual organizations, but praised the Carol Baldwin Fund.
“The Fair values the partnership that it has had with The Foundation and its Recycling Program, which has raised funds to help save lives through Breast Cancer Research. We continue to wish the Foundation success and welcome the opportunity to work together again in the future.”
Given a second chance to answer specific follow-up questions, the Fair deferred to its original statement.
Asked if she’d consider going back to the Fair, Beth Baldwin said, “I think when you’re done, you’re done. I’m okay with that, because I have so many other things.”