In the coming days, the fair train will be pulling into Hamburg and by next Wednesday, large crowds will be gathered for the start of the 173rd annual Erie County Fair, which runs from Aug. 8-19.
This year’s theme is “Wild about the Fair,” which Lou Ann Delaney, marketing director for the Erie County Fair, said came about as a result of several shows aimed at the wild, including “Wild About Monkeys,” featuring the crazy primates featured in movies such as “Evan Almighty.” The exhibit is both entertaining and educational and includes a live animal encounter. It is located inside Gate 5.
“We felt we could tie in a lot of the different departments,” Delaney said about the theme.
While there are always the traditional returning favorites, including popular foods, games and rides, Delaney said there are a number of new attractions this year.
This includes performances by the Nerveless Nocks. They come from the oldest circus family in Switzerland and will thrill audiences as they climb 40-foot poles and perform acrobatic stunts and mid-air exchanges. They will be located near Kiddieland.
Another new attraction will be the Steve Trash-Green Street Show. This combines eco-learning with magic and provides a fun and educational show for families to enjoy.
Other new attractions this year include the Commerford Fire Wagon Pony Hitch, which are miniature horses that will be located in Baker Park. They will also be featured as part of the daily parade.
The Gizmo Guys are comedy jugglers that will thrill the crowds at the Tops Family Entertainment Complex.
Also, Mango and Dango – Adventures of the Flying Umbrella Ship, combines street art and circus performing. They will be easy to spot as they are 10-feet tall.
And the Percheron Calliope Hitch are horses that will be featured in the daily parade and will be seen relaxing in the Equestrian Exhibition Complex.
Each year, there are typically new foods to try and this year is no exception.
New this year are deep-fried peanut butter and jelly, grilled jumbo shrimp, breakfast on a stick, deep fried tacos, chocolate-covered bacon, deep-fried Kool-Aid, catfish sliders, fish tacos, barbecue sundaes and deep fried-pie pops.
Something Delaney said is continuing to grow is the use of social media.
“We use Facebook a lot,” she said.
In 2011, an app was created for iPhone and Android cell phone users that offered instant access to everything from daily schedules to a feature that allows you to locate where you parked your vehicle.
“We reached a half a million page views on our app,” Delaney said.
They have been able to utilize the program throughout the year and expect it will continue to be a great resource tool for fair goers.
Also new this year is a text message application. Anyone interested in signing up for Erie County Fair alerts needs to text ECFAIR to 88588.
For the second year, a scavenger hunt will be held throughout the fair. Those who participate will scan a QR code and when the hunt is complete, they receive a souvenir mug.
“We’re balancing traditional media and the social media,” Delaney said.
As part of this year’s Erie County Fair, the Town of Hamburg’s bicentennial will be celebrated during Hamburg Bicentennial Day on Monday, Aug. 13. Discount tickets can be purchased at several locations.
The Town of Hamburg will also be including its float during the parade that day.
The Erie County Fair would not be complete without concerts and this year is no exception, with a mix of country, pop and rock, with some shows free and others that tickets need to be purchased for.
This includes “1964,” which is a Beatles tribute band performing on Wednesday, Aug. 8. that is free.
Other free concerts include country legend Ronnie Milsap on Thursday Aug. 9 and Little Anthony and the Imperials on Monday, Aug. 13.
Tickets can also be purchased for Victoria Justice, who will perform Saturday, Aug. 11, veteran rock band Boston on Tuesday, Aug. 14, Hot Chelle Rae on Wednesday, Aug. 15 and popular country artist Blake Shelton on Thursday, Aug. 16. For more information, visit www.ecfair.org.