Erie County Fair: Livestock up close
Animal husbandry is central to the Fair’s mission
Young farmers come to the Fair to win blue ribbons for the animals they have been caring for since birth.
Photo courtesy of the Erie County Agricultural Society
Erie County Fair
5600 McKinley Parkway, Hamburg
More than the midway, more than the deep-fried everything, even more than the grandstand live shows, the Erie County Fair is about agriculture. In 1820, when the first fair was held at the current site of Canalside, the star of the show was an unruly merino ram, who was carted to the event through the forests and moors of a nearby Indian reservation. In 1842, an 800-pound sow got all the attention, and, in 1885, a cow named “Well Done” was recognized for producing enough milk—within a week—to make twenty pounds of butter.
It’s possible to spend hours visiting the various barns where poultry, cattle, goats, swine, and other farm denizens are proudly displayed by their owners and caretakers. These competitions are governed by extensive regulations governing the ethical and humane treatment of the animals, as well as directives concerning their health, cleanliness, identifying tags, and vaccinations. In addition, the Fair adds new educational elements each year, to make sure that city- and suburban-dwelling fairgoers learn what it really means to work with these animals fulltime.
This year, an exhibit called Dairy Row has been added to the animal-related offerings. It includes calves at various ages (including bottle-fed) to observe size progressions, displays explaining milk production, types of feed, types of bedding, and kids’ activities. “Western,” a heifer calf who was born at last year’s Fair, will be available for selfies. This all takes place at the Fair’s recently built Agricultural Discovery Center, which is intended to help better connect the ninety-eight percent of the public who have no connection with agriculture with the two percent who do.
Also new at the 180th Erie County Fair:
•Urban Farming Trail: An interactive exhibit on Buffalo’s growing alternative farming movement, including mulch bins, rain barrels, and other DIY projects as well as hands-on activities.
•A new bee/honey exhibit that educates about honeybees and their importance to agriculture
•An authentic sugarhouse that includes live demos of sap boiling and refining