175 Years of Magic at The Erie County Fair

IMG_20140813_203958199I’ve had a long love-affair with the Erie County Fair since I was just a kid running through the Fun Houses. I even loved it when I was a teenager selling lemonade from inside a giant plastic lemon while battling swarms of bees. It remains one of my favorite area events of the year even now when I’m just a bigger kid hanging out with my friends in the beer tent. There is something magical about the atmosphere that I can’t ever seem to get enough of. It brings back great memories for me, but every year offers the opportunity to make new ones too.

And amazingly, what we Western New Yorkers refer to as simply “The Fair” has been community staple for over 175 years! But like most good things that can boast longevity, I think we take it for granted. It is always been there, so we forget to stop and really appreciate it.

According to their website, the Fair is produced annually by the Erie County Agricultural Society without any state or county funding – though as a non-profit they are eligible to apply for grants. At 275 acres with 86 buildings and 15,000 parking spaces, it is currently the nation’s third largest County Fair. This year, the Fair broke its attendance record with over 1.2 million visitors.

IMG_20140813_203949674The Society, which produces the Erie County Fair each year, is the oldest civic organization in our area. It was established in 1819, and its very first version of the Fair was in 1820. They had some logistical and funding issues after that, so the idea fizzled out. It was kick-started back up again in 1841, and what we now call the Erie County Fair has ran regularly ever since for a total of 175 Fairs. (If you are a math whiz then you realize counting 1841 and 2014 that should be 176 Fairs, but the 1943 Fair was canceled for WWII.)

_20140813_205831(1)Okay. Let’s talk about this… In 1820, when what was technically the first Fair went on, James Monroe was our President. Our fifth U.S. President. Lincoln was only ten years old. Thomas Jefferson was alive. Beethoven was still writing his ninth symphony. You know, the “Ode to Joy” one? Missouri and Maine became U.S. states. Susan B. Anthony was born. The Governor of New York was DeWitt Clinton – you know the guy who had the crazy idea to dig a ditch across New York? Which, by the way, in 1820 was only three years under construction. The Erie Canal wouldn’t open for another five years.

IMG_20140813_204609989(1)What’s my point? The Erie County Agricultural Society has some serious bragging rights. These folks aren’t rookies at throwing one heck of a party. They have been serving this community for a long time, and their Fair isn’t some rinky-dink shindig. It’s a regional institution that they take great pride in producing each year. While the focus is to highlight and recognize the long-standing agricultural community of Erie County, they pack in something fun, delicious, and interesting for everyone. From the demolition derby and tractor pull to the art shows and the acrobatic performances, the Fair bustles with activity. The Gusto Grandstand always holds several awesome concerts in a just few short days, this year including John Fogerty, Lady Antebellum, Dierks Bentley, and more.

So, a great big “thank you” to the folks at the Society. You do an absolutely spectacular job. We love our Fair!

 

IMG_20140813_203937185I was only able to get to it twice this year, which is far less than I usually do, but I made both trips count! I saw all the livestock of course, including the Budweiser Clydesdales. I walked the many buildings and checked out the vendors. I love seeing the local vendors on display. Naturally, I bought myself two new Buffalo-themed t-shirts. I watched the tigers and I caught a bit of an acrobatic show. I had a couple Lynchburg Lemonades while listening to some local bands rock the beer tent. I also walked the Midway at night where I took all of these great photos. They really capture the “magic” that I’m talking about.

Of course, I also stuffed my face. Deep-fried Oreos. Deep-fried Mac and Cheese. Deep-fried Mashed Potatoes. Deep-fried Ravioli. A blackened crab cake sandwich. Sugar waffle. Fried dough. All sorts of absolutely-terrible-for-you-things. I should add here that I split all of this with two other people… not that I feel any shame anyway! That’s one of the best parts of The Fair experience. I try to be healthy most of them time, but The Fair is my annual one-week excuse to splurge. 🙂

IMG_20140813_204338235Once again, the Fair has since come and gone in a blink of an eye, but the dates for 2015 have been set for August 12-23rd. Mark your calendar now! I’m already looking forward to it. Who knows what the Society will bring next year? No matter what, I think their record speaks for itself, and they won’t disappoint. They have delivered 175 times, and 1.2 million visitors agree!


Did you get to the Fair this year? What’s your favorite thing to see? What’s your favorite thing to eat? Let us know!

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2 Comments on “175 Years of Magic at The Erie County Fair”

  1. buffalogrl25 August 22, 2014 at 9:17 pm #

    Reblogged this on Buffalo Girl and commented:

    Here is my most recent post for What’s Going On In Buffalo!

    Sorry folks… I have taken a bit of a blogging vacation soaking up what is left of the Summer before the Fall semester starts. I will be back with more soon. Miss you guys though! Xoxo

  2. singleintherivercity August 24, 2014 at 6:46 pm #

    oh man I LOVE a good fair..this one sounds positively AWESOME.

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