By Kellen M. Quigley
Dubbed “The Best 12 Days of Summer,” the Erie County Fair’s 180th year is now underway, running daily through Aug. 18.
The Erie County Fair has many ties to Springville, even being held here in 1867 and Springville-Griffith Institute graduate Jessica Underberg as the current fair manager and CEO, but it’s been a summertime tradition in Hamburg for the past 151 years.
Although some aspects of the event have changed with the times, the idea of having one place for people to gather annually for 12 days of attractions and fun has remained steadfast.
Erie County Fair runs daily from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily through Aug. 18 at the Hamburg Fairgrounds, 5600 McKinley Parkway in Hamburg. Tickets cost $12 for adults and $9 for seniors, but kids 12 years and younger get in for free.
This year’s main grandstand attraction is Kane Brown, a 25-year-old country star who was born into 21st century country music through the world of social media. Brown will take the stage Monday, Aug. 12. Tickets start at $55.
the other big grandstand show will feature standup comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, who will take the stage on Aug. 10 as part of his Beyond the Fluffy world tour. Tickets start at $28.
More evenings of music at the grandstands include The Pettybreakers on Aug. 9, Happy Together on Aug. 14, Diamond Rio on Aug. 15 and The Australian Pink Floyd Show on Aug. 16.
Other events planned for the grandstands include the North American Masters Drone Race on Aug. 11, FreestyleMX.com on Aug. 13, the 2019 Ultimate Night of Destruction Aug. 17 and two Demolition Derby shows on Aug. 18.
Outside of the grandstand, there is so much to do and see at the Erie County Fair. There is a beer garden, agricultural center, heritage and history center, marketplace building, a butterfly exhibit and so much more.
An old favorite attraction returning to the midway this year is the Sky Wheel, an 80-foot-tall double Ferris wheel that was a featured attraction at the fair for many years until its retirement in the mid-1990s.
But since its retirement by Strates Show, fairgoers have been demanding it come back, and as one of only five operating Sky Wheels in North America, the fully restored version coming to Erie County may be one of your only chances to give it a go.
A few other new entertainment options to check out this year include:
• Camel Kingdom, where visitors can get up close to snow white and spotted Dromedary camels;
the theatrical circus duo of Mango and Dango performing acrobatics and aerial comedy;
• Flippenout Extreme Trampoline, where top athletes will do acrobatic routines at heights of 25 feet or higher;
• DNA mind readers Andrew and Darren, finalists on “Britain’s Got Talent 2017,” displaying their telepathic abilities; and
• Twinkle Time, with Twinkle ready to entertain youngsters with her colorful and high-energy pop concert where kids can learn from her bilingual pop tunes.
Everyone loves fair food, and the Erie County Fair always offers plenty of new tasty treats to check out and chow down on.
There’s the “Fairgoers Vote” for attendees to vote on their favorite new fair food through the Fairgrounds App. Voting goes through Aug. 13 with the winner announced Aug. 15. Additionally, a panel of guest judges will sample and vote on their favorites during our New Food Showdown Judging Show, which took place Aug. 8.
Among the new selections to sample are potato butts from the Renaissance Lodge Curly Q stand, Not Your Mother’s PB&J from the new Cheesecake Guy trailer, avocado double chocolate cookies from the Cookie Barn, waffle bombs from Waffle Bomb, bacon cheeseburger poutine by Poutine Gourmet, brisket nachos by Dre’s Place BBQ, pierogi poutine with shredded pot roast from Babcia’s Pierogi and Loganberry funnel cake corn dog by Chester’s Gators and Taters.
There are several special days to attend the fair this year. On Friday, Aug. 9 it’s Firefighter’s Day featuring a parade at 6:30 p.m. Then on Sunday, Aug. 11, it’s Veteran’s Day, which will feature a 1 p.m. parade.
On Tuesday, Aug. 13 and Thursday, Aug. 15, there is only a $5 admission cost. Parking for passenger cars, SUVs and minivans is $5 everyday.
With something for everyone, the Erie County Fair won’t disappoint. Take the short drive to Hamburg to experience this Western New York tradition and make summertime memories!
Visit www.ecfair.org for more information.