More than a year ago, I visited the Northampton fairgrounds and documented what was left of the racetrack, grandstand, and barn area. Click here to read the post and see the photos. For me, it was akin to an archeological expedition because I’d been to the races at Northampton in the 1980s and still vividly recall the carnival atmosphere under which racing was conducted there then.
A few months ago, however, I met a man, Professor Sugarcane Hancock, who’d been a habitue of Northampton and the Massachusetts fair circuit in the 1970s. Sugarcane, who’s in his early 70s, is a former Civil Rights activist and a professor of African-American studies at a Northeastern college—an intellectual, first. But, he’s also a racing fan. And he grooves, too, or did. A a cool cat from the era of plush wall-to-wall and Parliament-Funkadelic, his fair tales, told to me one evening over beers, are colorful, ironic, and true.
I wrote about him and the fairs in my Wednesday column in Thoroughbred Times TODAY. You can read it by clicking here. And when you do, it would help to picture the professor as P-Funk’s George Clinton from the 1976 album Mothership Connection. Click here to see a video.