By Daniel Meyer
While other summertime festivals and celebrations to grow in popularity and add to the impressive array of “things to do” in Western New York, the Erie County Fair is still a showcase event in our region. This year is no different as the 177th edition of the 12-day experience prepares to take place in the Town of Hamburg starting next week.
Located on the 265-acre campus known as the Hamburg Fairgrounds, the 2016 Erie County Fair begins Wednesday, Aug.10 and runs through Sunday, Aug. 21. While the traditional favorites such as the mile-long amusement park rides along the midway (by Strates Shows, Inc.), nightly entertainment at the Grandstand and live animal exhibits return to entertain the masses, there are some new features this year that are certain to attract people of all ages.
“The Erie County Fair remains popular year after year for a variety of reasons, but one of the main attractions is our ongoing efforts to constantly introduce new exhibits and other exciting features that have not been seen before,” said Martin Biniasz, director of entertainment and special projects who serves as the marketing manager for the Erie County Agricultural Society, the private not-for-profit membership organization that annually produces the Erie County Fair. “This year we are excited to be adding another component to our hands-on educational experiences about agriculture as we introduce what we are calling ‘Horse Headquarters,’ a brand new element to agriculture education that we believe will be a tremendous attraction, particularly for children.”
Other new attractions include the opening of what will be known as the Erie County Fair Heritage and History Center. Located inside the famous 1885 Octagon Building, this permanent museum will help display nearly 200 years of agriculture, food, competition and anything else related to the history of the Erie County Fair, from its very early days to the present-day Fair.
“This museum is sure to be a popular destination because of the rare artifacts we will have on display. The opening of the Heritage and History Center is our way of sharing The Fair’s history with everyone and will allow those many happy memories that we all have of The Fair to be chronicled and shared publicly,” said Biniasz. “It’s a great way to tell our story and allow for great stories from years past to be shared and passed down from generation to generation.”
Other special features this year include a special tribute to the late Ramblin’ Lou Schriver, the longtime broadcaster who owned WXRL Radio and annually performed at the Erie County Fair for the past five decades. His death earlier this year marked the end of an era and sparked a decision to recognize the many years of broadcasting his radio program from The Fair.
“We were all saddened when Ramblin’ Lou passed away this past January, so a way to pay tribute to his career and his efforts in entertaining so many people who attended The Fair was to recognize him with daily performances by the multi-generational Ramblin’ Lou Family Band on the Avenue of Flags Stage,” said Biniasz. “If anyone was a fan of Ramblin’ Lou, the music he played and the music he performed, you will want to see what we will have on display that pays tribute to a truly unique Buffalo Broadcasting Hall of Famer.”
Parents remember: Children ages 12 and under receive free admission every day of The Fair. In addition, there are multiple admission discount days, including “Firefighters Day” on Friday, August 12 and “Veterans Day” on Sunday, August 14. There are also special one-price-ride-days, early morning discounts and special student discount admission options with proper identification after 5 p.m.
Gate hours will be from noon until 10 p.m. on August 10 and then 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. from August 11-21. All buildings will open at 10 a.m. each day and the midway will open daily at 11 a.m.
“We say it each year but it has to be said again that the Erie County Fair has something for everyone,” said Biniasz. “From our numerous free entertainment options to the delicious food to the outstanding live musical entertainment to all of the animals in livestock barns, we offer fun for the entire family. The Erie County Fair really is the 12 best days of the summer.”
For more information about the Erie County Fair, visit www.ecfair.org or call (716) 649-3900.