Archive for November, 2013

Have You Ever Heard of a Drum Horse?

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

November 28, 2013.  A tradition seen at many Erie County Fair parades and Grandstand events was the “drum horse.” Guiding a horse with his legs, Mark McKibbin bangs the drums as he makes his way up the Avenue of Flags in this 1967 image from the Erie County Fair Archives



Concession King Horschel and his Fair Legacy

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

November 21, 2013. Horschel’s Concession Tent, 1956. From 1919 to 1969, Lew Horschel was the undisputed “dean” of Erie County Fair concessionaires. His offering included various dining tents around the grounds to “fine dining” featuring white linins, china and polished silverware in the Clubhouse. In addition to the Fair, Horschel also held concessions rights at Memorial Auditorium, Civic Stadium (The Rockpile) and ”any circus or carnival he could find.” Always looking to “serve his loyal customers,” Horschel was arrested during a 1932 Prohibition raid at the Fair for selling illegal alcohol. Horschel’s operated at the Fair until 1969 when passed away at the age of 89. In the image you can also see the original “Agricultural Building” which became the front of the current “Historical Building.” To the right is the former “Educational Building” which was moved to Slade Park and now home to the Woodcarvers.



Bryan Wittman: Working for The Mouse…but Started at the Fair

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

This week the Erie County Fair had the honor of naming Bryan Wittman an Honorary Chairman of the 175th Fair. For those who don’t know Bryan Wittman personally, they have certainly seen his work. Wittman is the current Vice President of Global Special Events for Disney Parks and Resorts. He has been at the head of Disney Cruise Line christenings, Super Bowl Halftime Shows, the Rose Parade and other Disney Productions.

Before he worked for the Main Mouse himself, Wittman got his start right here at the Erie County Fair as a stage manager at the outdoor theater in 1975.  One of his fondest Fair memories involves working with than Erie County Fair Hall of Famer, Ramblin’ Lou!  When Wittman looks back on his experiences here at the Fair he remembers it was the faces of the audience during his theater shows that kept him going. That passion for entertainment and the happiness of others is what has continued to drive his career even today.

While Disney has parks and resorts all over the world, there is only one place that Wittman calls home, Hamburg, NY. Having been born and raised here in WNY, Wittman and his wife Kathy still keep a residence here in the 716. Wittman has graduated from St. Francis High School and then went to college at Ashland University in Ohio.

Wittman will be assisting in guiding the creative planning process of the 175th anniversary Fair’s events and promotions. Fair CEO Denny Lang said of Wittman’s naming “We are extremely proud to welcome Bryan back into the Erie County Fair family…”  wittamn.png

Let the Holiday Magic Begin…

Friday, November 15th, 2013


at the 9th Annual Fairgrounds Festival of Lights.

What kind of  holiday magic are you talking about?  

The Fairgrounds in Hamburg, NY will be opening its gates for the 9th Annual Fairgrounds Festival of Lights. This annual tradition brings visitors from across WNY out on winter evenings to partake in family friendly holiday fun.  What began as a drive through of  light displays has turned into a winter wonderland full of activities for everyone, including rides, crafts, shows, and of course Santa.

That sounds good…but when is it? 

Opening day for the Festival of Lights is November 29 at 5pm. The rest of the dates are as follows: November 29-30, December 1, 6-8, 13-15, 20-23, 27-29. Gates will be open from 5pm-9pm; however, buildings will remain open until 10pm.

Is this ‘magic’ going to break the bank?   

No Way! The Festival of Lights is affordable holiday fun. Carload admission is just $20. Busloads are $50. Save 50% with pre-sale tickets for just $10 at the Event Center Box Office (M-F, 9am-4:30pm) or at participating local Tops Friendly Markets locations. Pre-sale tickets are available until November 23rd.

Ok so we’re going. What will we do when we get there?  


Admission to the Fairgrounds Festival of Lights includes a drive through all new LED light displays. After (or before!) the drive through, you can park the car and stroll down the expanded 42nd Street for more holiday fun. Kids can play an interactive game at the Christmas Tree Forest or be a contestant at a KidsShow. Everyone in the family will enjoy a magic variety show with Erie County Fair favorite, Nels Ross. Make someone special a holiday gift at the Tops Winter Wonderland Workshop, then head outside for an all new animated light show on the Woodcarvers Building. End your day meeting holiday characters, reindeer or even the Big Guy himself, Santa Claus (until Dec. 23rd).

For an additional cost take a reindeer carriage ride, decorate a holiday cookie, snack on tasty concessions, ride the rides on Santa’s Magical Midway or warm up around the fire pit with a hot beverage. Pick up a gift for someone special at one of our holiday vendors, including a new Candy Shop.

 You can also check out the winners of the “Drug Free New Year” artwork and poetry contest as well as visit the 35 foot tall Christmas Tree, brought to you by WNY United.  Guests are also encouraged to bring a new unwrapped toy for the Buffalo News Neediest Fund.

 There will be four holiday contests including cookie decorating, gingerbread house construction, a wreath making contest and an all new stocking decorating contest (which will replace ornament decorating). Find contest details and information at


The car is nice and warm and all… but what if I want to walk?  

Then we have just the thing for you! All NEW Walk-Around Wednesdays! If you are looking for a new way to see the Festival of Lights may choose to walk through the nearly two miles on select Wednesdays (12/4, 12/11, 12/18). Only the light displays will be available for viewing as the buildings will be closed. If you have always wanted to try snowshoeing, here is your chance! You have the opportunity to rent snowshoes onsite with the support of Gear for Adventure. Walk-Around Wednesdays run from 5pm-9pm and are just $5 per group (rentals not included).


For More Information call (716) 649-3900 ext. 6404 or visit our website at

Mount your Trout and More at the Conservation Building

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

November 14, 2013. Constructed in 1922, the 91 year old Conservation Building’s primary mission has been to “protect and perpetuate conservation of our national resources and wildlife as endowed by the Creator.” Annual exhibits are geared towards hunters, fishermen, and outdoor enthusiasts. One of the highlights for visitors is a stop at one of the large, freshwater aquariums featuring native pike, trout, bass and sunfish. In 1967, an addition was added to the front of the building near the Avenue of Flags doubling exhibition space.


Throwback Duds to Celebrate Throwback Thursdays

Monday, November 11th, 2013

November 7, 2013. As part of our celebration of the 175th Erie County Fair, we are proud to partner with for the limited edition release of a custom t-shirt featuring the classic look of the late 70s and 80s. This Erie County Fair & Expo logo was used by the Erie County Agricultural Society as the Fair’s primary logo from 1975 to 1988.

#ThrowbackThursday, As part of our celebration of the 175th Erie County Fair, we are proud to partner with for the limited edition release of a custom t-shirt featuring the classic look of the late 70s and 80s. This Erie County Fair & Expo logo was used by the Erie County Agricultural Society as the Fair’s primary logo from 1975 to 1988. You can pick a retro shirt up at #ChristmasInTheCountry this weekend, find us in the back lobby of the Event Center

Only 47 Days Until Christmas!!!!

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

It is not time to panic yet…but if you have names to still cross off on your shopping list than the Fairgrounds might have the solution for you. This weekend the Fairgrounds  will be hosting Christmas in the Country, the annual craft show that spans five buildings and offers hundreds of vendors providing handmade Christmas crafts and gifts.

The 2013 edition of Christmas in the County will feature 400 vendors representing 25 states and 4 countries! The show has been voted the #1 Craft Show in America. For more information visit

Show hours are as follows:

Thursday, November 7- 10am-9pm

Friday. November 8- 10am-9pm

Saturday, November 9- 9am-6pm

Sunday, November 10- 10am-5pm

Admission is just $8.00 and kids 12 and under are FREE

If you have a Fair fanatic on your shopping list than be sure to stop by the 175th Erie County Fair booth in the foyer and purchase your retro Erie County Fair t-shirt for just $15 (including tax).


Don’t leave the show without purchasing your pre-sale carload admission for the Fairgrounds Festival of Lights for just $10! That is 50% off of regular admission.