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Life Happens: Happy anniversary to the Erie County Fair

Who is celebrating their demisemiseptcentennial this year? Why, the Erie County Fair, of course. According to, the Fair is celebrating its 175th birthday this year.

That is quite a mouthful. I had no idea what a 175th anniversary is called, so I had to look it up. I also learned it is also called a quartoseptcentennial. But either way, this is a huge accomplishment for the third largest county fair in the nation.

Originally, back in the early 1800s, the fair was held for one day in September. The site was downtown Buffalo, and people traveled a long way to participate. Over the span of many, many years, the fair has grown into the twelve-day extravaganza that we have today. There are 275 acres of shows, rides, exhibits, music and food, and every variation in between. Over one million people make their way to the fair, with many visiting more than once.

I have a sister who has such a love of the fair, that she usually goes five or six days out of the twelve, and she’s not alone. Many people will tell you that it’s not even possible to see it all in one day, at least not with any attention to detail.

And everyone who visits seems to have their own favorite way to see and do as much as possible, in the time allotted. Some see the animals first, then progress around the perimeter, the exhibits and the shows, finally hitting the midway by dusk. Others start at the rides and don’t stop until they physically can’t do one more loopedy-loop. Then they tone it down with some shows, exhibits and food.

Others, by their own happy confession, literally eat their way through the Fair. And why not? When will you be able to enjoy deep-fried Oreos or a bacon burger stuffed in a donut again?

As happy and exciting as the fair is, every year, there is a tiny element of bittersweet emotion that comes with it.

The phrase I hear over and over around town is, “You know summer is over when the fair train comes to town.” That assessment may not be very accurate on a calendar, but that is what it feels like to many. After the whirlwind of the fair has been packed up and put away for another year, there are only a few precious days left before Labor Day, and then all the back-to-school schedules loom way too close.

But what a way to say good-bye to summer. A 12-day festival that has been going on for almost a couple of centuries. Happy Demisemiseptcentennial to the Erie County Fair.

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