By Mary Heyl
If you think the Fairgrounds in Hamburg is just for the Erie County Fair every summer, think again! This 265-acre facility hosts a range of events and activities all year long, and there’s plenty to do, even during these last few weeks of winter.
Just south of Buffalo, the Fairgrounds is just a short drive from Springville, and upcoming events including EquiFest, Plantasia and the Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Show are definitely worth the drive!
On Saturday and Sunday, March 18 and 19, WNY EquiFest 2017, sponsored by the Western Chapter for the New York State Horse Council, will be taking place at the Showplex at the Fairgrounds. JoAnne Bonsack, Media Coordinator, invites families to attend this free event that features some of the area’s top horse clinicians and trainers. Each year, EquiFest grows, and Bonsack is pleased to share the news that this year, which is the seventh year of the show, will be bigger than ever with even more exciting presentations and top horse trainers.
Shawn Flarida, the National Reining Horse Association’s all-time leading money earner and the first ever Five Million Dollar Rider, will be hosting a demonstration on Saturday. Flarida has won five NRHA Open Futurity championships and has won the All-American Quarter Horse Congress Futurity eleven times; his demonstration will be followed by a participant clinic on Saturday evening!
There are lots of events and demonstrations that families can look forward to throughout the weekend. Bonsack encourages visitors to check out the Golden Pony Express Drill Team from Ohio, who are first-time visitors to Western New York. There will also be a canine and horse relay race called “Not-Your-Average Dog and Pony Show,” and the annual favorite Parade of Breeds and Breed Avenue, where visitors can see their favorite horse breeds in person.
The event also includes over 100 vendors for equine enthusiasts, who will enjoy exploring the variety of horse products, including riding wear, saddles, equipment, trailers, and beautiful hand-crafted gifts and foods. To learn more, visit www.wnyequifest.com and check out EquiFest WNY on Facebook!
The following weekend, the Fairgrounds will be hosting Plantasia, Western New York’s Premier Garden and Landscape Show in the Event Center and Artisan Hall. This year’s theme is Gardens Through the Ages and will celebrate how gardens have been a vital part of history from the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to the palace gardens at Versailles to the colonial gardens of Williamsburg. Not only are gardens a source of beauty and pleasure, but they are also important to survival.
Visitors can explore 14 fully-landscaped gardens covering 15,000 square feet with all kinds of blooming trees, shrubs, flowers, and more. Enjoy shopping with over 100 vendors that offer a huge range of products including plants, garden décor, seeds, outdoor furniture, garden tools, and more.
New to gardening? No problem! Plantasia includes lots of free educational seminars hosted by gardening experts who can teach you everything you need to know about cultivating your own green thumb. This family-friendly event includes a Children’s Garden that even the youngest visitors will enjoy exploring.
Plantasia takes place from Thursday, March 23 through Saturday, March 25 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, March 26 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $9 for adults, $7 for seniors (60+) and children ages 12 and younger are free admission with paid adult. Preview Night takes place on Wednesday, March 22 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., when visitors can get an exclusive first-look at Plantasia while enjoying tasty treats and specialty beverages from area restaurants including Abbott Road Pizza, Anderson’s, Arriba Tortilla, Paula’s Donuts, and more! Pre-sale tickets are $15 and are available at www.plantasiany.com or $20 at the door.
While you’re visiting the Fairgrounds for Plantasia, visit the Market and Grange Building, where the Buffalo Geological Society will be hosting the Gem, Mineral and Fossil Show on Saturday and Sunday, March 25 and 26. This year’s focus is the garnet, which is the official New York State mineral. Explore rock crystals, fossils, beads, and even gold panning. The event includes lots of fun hands-on activities and demonstrations including a miniature mine, flint knapping, crystal jewelry, and children’s crafts.
Admission is just $5 for adults and a two-day pass is $7. Admission is free for children ages 12 and younger and all Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in uniform! The show will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Other upcoming events at the Fairgrounds include the Cavalcade of Cars March 3-5, the WNY Sport and Travel Expo March 9-12, Ismalia Shrine Circus March 16-20 and Mothertime Marketplace March 17-19.
For more information about events taking place at the Fairgrounds, visit www.the-fairgrounds.com/event and follow the Hamburg Fairgrounds on Facebook.