Paul Basilio Interview

His stand has been a New York State Fair tradition since 1956.

The stand is called Basilio’s and the man who runs it is Paul Basilio.

Q. Paul I guess this would be the most important question, how are you related to Carmen Basilio?
A. Carmen is my Brother.

Q. For some reason I always thought that was his stand. Did he ever have any involvement in that stand?
A. Not really. See, Norm Rothchild got me in there. I think he used a wheelbarrow to get me in there. I didn’t really want to in there. I was in the sausage business then. I was just starting. I wanted to pay attention to that cause I didn’t have a lo of money. Anyway, he got me in there and I kind of liked it and it’s been there 54 years.

Q – Was it a big investment to get the stand going?
A – No, not really. It isn’t like today. A couple thousand dollars I got in business.

Q – How long did you think you’d be at the Fair?
A – I didn’t really think about it. I just went in there and took it year to year and I never thought I’d be there with grey hair.

Q – What kept you coming back year after year? Was it seeing the people?
A – Oh yeah. Definitely I meet the same people year after year. I’m on the third generation of customers over there. I really love it. I really love talking to the people and waiting on the people and see them smile when they’re eating my stuff. I try very hard to satisfy everybody and do a good job.

Q – Were you into boxing at all?
A – Yeah. I started before my brother in fact. Carmen was in the Marine Corps. and my older brother was in the Marine Corps. I got in the Golden Gloves in 1948 in Syracuse. I was in the Golden Gloves ’48, ’49, and 1950, in Syracuse. I went to Albany with my brother Carmen in ’49. We both won in Albany. He went on to turn professional after that. I never did. The reason I didn’t was I was too small. I weighed 110 pounds. I asked a person, who’s the Flyweight Champion of The World? I’m talking about I asked a boxing fan. And they said they didn’t know. When he told me that I said well, there ain’t too much sense me coming here ‘cause I didn’t see my future, a financial future that is.

Q – Do you set up at just the New York State Fair or do you go around to other fairs?
A – No. I just do the State Fair. It would be pretty hard to do all of ‘em. There’s another Big one I would’ve liked to have went to and that’s in Springfield, Mass. Bit, I never did.  I’m just satisfied going down there. I’m happy there. I know everybody. It’s a lot of fun, believe me. A lot of hard work. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a great pleasure when you see the same people come year after year. You get some satisfaction out of it. It’s like you sold a good book, on top of trying to make a buck.

Q – How long of a day do you put in?
A – Anywhere from 8 hours to 14 hours but, now I got my daughter there and she’s kind of running things. I kind of quieted down a little bit because I’m getting a little up their in age see. I’m 82 years old, and I haven’t got what I had 20 years ago.

Q – Where do you sell this sausage that you make besides the N.Y. State Fair? Around the country? Around the world?
A – Not at the present time. I got a nephew in Texas that worked for me for 20 years and he has a real big organization. He’s got about 70 people working for him and he sends it out quite a bit too different places.

Q – What do you think keeps people coming back to Basilio’s? Is it the sausage? Is it the fact that they know you?
A – Well, the first thing you gotta do is you gotta have a clean place, which I have. The second thing is you gotta have good merchandise which I have. And, you gotta have a good personality yourself to talk to people and let ‘em know that you’re tickled to death that they come back again. I run the business like I want to be there after the Fair is over with. I don’t say I’m gonna be there 7, 8, 9, 10, 12 days, whatever it is and forget about it. I just run the business like I’m gonna be there the following week.

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