The one constant event of summer in Western New York is the Erie County Fair. It comes like clockwork every August. I’ve been going to the Fair practically since I’ve been born, and every time I go, there have been exhibits that have been there like old familiar friends every year.
The 4H exhibits have always been my favorite. From sheep, to cows, to every farm animal in between; from handmade clothes to jars of jams and jellies; I always enjoy seeing what the 4H kids have done.
There was a summer or two, when my own kids had their animals at the fair. We were a “duck” 4H, and after raising our ducks from eggs, they were entered and judged. It was exciting for my kids to see their ducks on display.
We even brought home a first place ribbon in the “Duck Dressing” contest. Yes, that’s right. We dressed our ducks in costumes, from a fluffy blue chiffon prom gown and tiara, for our female duck, to a leather studded motorcycle jacket and helmet for our male duck. The “Biker Chick” won.
The midway is another area that has been there forever, it seems. James E. Strates Shows have provided the midway attractions since 1924. The digitally programmed lighting on the ferris wheel might be new, but the midway itself is reassuringly familiar. Loud, boisterous and bright, it carries on year after year.
Chiavetta’s chicken is another fixture at the Fair. I’m not sure when they started there, but I know that I’ve been enjoying their barbecued half chicken and tomato salad since I was a kid.
The one thing I never really liked was the Birch Beer. I know it’s another icon of the Fair, and I remember when it was 25 cents a glass, but to me, it always tasted like toothpaste. I was very happy when the lemonade stands came to the Fair. The half lemon, sweet sugar concoction is one of my all time favorites and I look forward to a giant glass of that every year.
So, for all the stands and attractions that have been the mainstay of the Fair, it continues to add and expand. It’s twelve days of concerts, hypnotists, motor sports, clowns, and marching bands. As the third largest county fair in the nation, it is 275 acres of fun that takes an entire day, or maybe two, to see.
The Fair has been rolling along since its inception. It’s grown a lot in 173 years. From 12 acres when it started in it’s current spot in Hamburg, to all these acres of attractions, food, rides, and spectacles.
I hope it continues for another 173 years. Or more.