Keeping with family tradition, we attended the 180th Erie County Fair in Hamburg, NY with three generations of our family. We actually went twice, once with my sister and brother-in-law, their children, and their grandchildren, and once with my sister and brother-in-law only. The purpose of the second visit: see the exhibits we missed with the grandchildren along, and eat the food we didn’t necessarily want them to see us eating!
Growing up one town away, we always attended the Fair as a family at least one day during the twelve days it runs. As we became older, we also attended other days with our friends, concentrating on the Midway rides and games, the Fair food, and the evening concerts.
The Fair keeps true to its agricultural origins. The old barns, old even when I attended as a child, have been rebuilt to reflect modern agriculture and farming advances. 4H remains active here, the prize winning animals on display with ribbons decorating their stalls. This year I learned that goats have rectangular pupils, giving them 320 – 340 degrees of vision. As herbivores, they need all the help they can get to graze and watch out for predators, and this large field of vision aids with that. This knowledge led to me going from stall to stall, attempting to get a good photograph of an eye. Naturally, most goats looked away. Finally, one cooperated.
The displays in the Agriculture Building improve each year. My parents maintained a large vegetable garden in our ½ acre suburban-bordering-on-country yard, so they purposefully walked this building eyeing produce and comparing to their garden yield. Unfortunately, though I try, I must confess I did not inherit the green thumb. The artfully displayed tomatoes, nestled in dry corn, caught my eye this year.A few games of “I Got It” followed. At 50₵ a game, the ball toss attempting to get five in a row appeals to adults and children, and the price remains reasonable. Playing seated on a stool in a large open tent also provides a bit of rest and relaxation for the younger kids, and let’s face it, the older ones too. My mother used that game to get a rest while attending the Fair with her children and grandchildren. Now her grandchildren do the same with their children.
This Fair keeps up with the present while keeping a presence in the still relevant past. It is the longest continuous running county fair in the country for that reason.
On the second visit I helped my sister eat some Fried Dough, had my own helping of Buffalo Trio Pierogies, and topped it off with a Walk Away Sundae. Karl stayed with tradition and had Italian Sausage smothered in green peppers and onions. The Walk away Sundae is a square-topped cone containing a square of vanilla ice cream, dipped in chocolate and then in nuts. According to the vendor, they are one of the originals, and the Walk Away Sundae celebrates 90 years next year. That alone is worth a trip in 2020.