With 2014 coming to a close, the Fairgrounds looks back on the top fourteen stories that made this year one of the best yet on the grounds. The stories are not in order of importance, but chronological instead. So take a journey through the past twelve months and relive some of the most exciting moments of the year!
The Buffalo Raceway was not without excitement in 2014. In total seven track records were equaled or broken. The biggest of these feats was by far Gural Hanover lowering the all age trot mark to 1:56:1 as a 3 year old.
The Fairgrounds is home to many exciting events, many of which return year after year. 2014, however, was extra special in that the Fairgrounds had the opportunity to host the NHPA World Horseshoe Tournament. More than 1,500 horseshoe pitching competitors from around the world made their way to the grounds for the 12 day competition. With pits lining the Event Center, and the constant clank of horseshoes hitting the pin, the competition was by far one of the most unique events the grounds have ever hosted.
The 60,000 square foot Agriculture Discovery Center opened its doors becoming one of the largest buildings of its kind in the region. From livestock stalling to the fun (and educational) components, the ADC is one of the Fairgrounds’ greatest achievements in 2014. Opening its doors at the beginning of August, it was truly incredible to see the all of the hard work and creativity come together.
The celebration for this historic anniversary began in 2013, but the party really got started once 2014 hit. The Fair Truck made appearances throughout WNY, 17,500 wooden nickels were passed out, planning for the Fair was underway, and finally the time had come to really celebrate. From an opening night with the BPO, to honoring traditions, eating food, riding rides, and creating memories, the 2014 Erie County Fair was an incredible event.
For many years, days at the Fair ended its nights with dark skies. In 2014, the Erie County Fair was excited to bring back a crowd favorite, fireworks. With the help of Sklighters of New York, the Fair was able to feature three nights of incredible pyrotechnic showcases. Could the tradition of illuminated skies continue into 2015….you will have to wait and see!
After more than a year in the making, the Erie County Fair Skywalk was the highlight of the 175th Fair. 125 Feet above the grounds Nik Wallenda made his way slowly from the Midway to the Grandstand in his longest walk of the year. For the first time ever there was silence on the grounds, that was until Wallenda made it to the crane and pumped his fist. A collective sigh could be heard before 100,000+ people let out a deafening cheer!
The 175th Fair promised to be the BEST FAIR EVER, and it certainly delivered. The Fair’s attendance record was broken, yet, again with 1,220,101 people coming through the gates in just 12 days.
The Showplex and Agriculture Discovery Center played host to the National Junior Swine Association’s regional show at the beginning of October. More than 250 hogs came from as far as Colorado to compete. Exhibitors and their families were treated to special events, such as a movie night in the Silo Theater, as well as a friendly but competitive Skill-a-thon testing everyone’s knowledge about pigs.
Farm 2 Table spent a good deal of the year on the road, while construction was completed on the ADC, however, in October the grade school program returned home to the Fairgrounds. In just three months the program has educated more than 2,000 students grades K-5 on everything agriculture from apples and turkeys, to Christmas trees! The program looks forward to an even bigger 2015.
Another holiday favorite at the Fairgrounds, Christmas in the Country Artisan Marketplace, opened its doors for its 30th year. While all of them haven’t been at the Fairgrounds, it is still great to be part of this show’s long history! In 2014, more than 30,000 visitors came to the grounds to get their hands on holiday gifts right as the shopping season began.
It wasn’t just the Fairgrounds, it was all of WNY. The storm dropped nearly six feet of snow on the grounds causing quite a bit of havoc. From a downed barn to the postponement of the Festival of Lights the Fairgrounds did not get through unscathed. However, much like the incredible people of WNY, the Fairgrounds bounced back and are ready to rebuild bigger and better than ever!
Celebrating a decade lighting up WNY’s holiday season, the Fairgrounds Festival of Lights opened its gates (a week late due to Snowvember) to families by the carload. The Festival celebrated by opening up the all new North Pole Experience. This walk through display led guests to Santa’s house, where they could meet the Big Guy himself. The Festival also featured shows, activities, rides, food, and of course more than one million twinkling lights.
After the hard work that poured into the 175th Erie County Fair, the Fairgrounds received honors at the IAFE (International Association of Fairs and Expositions) Awards for Communications, Agriculture, and Competitive Exhibits. With the Fair bringing home more than a dozen awards in everything from the app to the ADC, it feels great to be recognized for the efforts put forth by the dedicated Fair staff.
Through the Festival of Lights was postponed due to the Snowvember storm for a week, it didn’t stop guests from coming out by the carload. In 2014 the previous attendance record was shattered with 11,520 carloads coming through the gates and celebrating the season right here on the Fairgrounds.