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Erie County Fair relic poster unveiled, fair asks public to share

THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE — Pictured is the unveiling of an 1883 Erie County Fair poster. The item will go through a conservation process for approximately two months, to help repair any damages. Photo by Alicia Greco.
HAMBURG — In preparation for the 175th celebratory year of the Erie County Fair, event planners are gathering nostalgic items from the fair’s past. The most recent discovery: an 1883 fair promotional poster.

The Erie County Agricultural Society has already begun processing the damaged poster. Stated efforts are not to make the memento new again, but to fill in the spaces and tweak damages that have incurred in the decades since its creation.

“A piece like this is a very important window to the past of the Erie County Fair,” said Marty Biniasz, special events manager for the 175th fair.

The poster’s unveiling was held on Oct. 10; the memento was found in a Clarence attic.

According to Laura Schell, the paper conservator in charge of the project, this particular piece is considered ephemera, “an object created to advertise or commemorate a single, finite event.”

Schell studied art conservation at the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She said that she is looking forward to this process and that the biggest challenge will be handling the poster, which was originally printed on weak paper.

“It’ll be really, really fun,” she said. She will spend most of her time washing, to deacidify the paper, and will use cast paper pulp to fill the holes. She estimated that the project will take approximately two months to complete.

“Pieces like this weren’t meant to be around 100 years,” Biniasz added.

Certain precautions must be taken and specific materials must be used, to help maintain the piece’s stamina, over time.

A team is currently working to collect and preserve a room full of historical fair paraphernalia for next August’s event. “Part of the story is the continuity of what we did,” Biniasz said. “We’re looking into a mirror, into the past.”

The Fairgrounds staff has asked that the public come forward to share items that will help tell the expansive story of the fair, for its 175th celebration.

All mementos will be temporarily borrowed, archived and then returned to the owners; the committee will erect a historical exhibit, during next year’s fair, from all of the items found. The exact location has not yet been decided.

“This [poster] represents a connection to the past,” Biniasz said.

As pieces are discovered, recovered and conserved, The Fairgrounds will pile up memories of the past, until the commemorative celebration in August.

Those with items to contribute to the effort may call The Fairgrounds at 649-3900 ext. 6409.

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