For the hundreds of thousands of fairgoers across the country, summer means one thing -- fair season, and Erie County happens to be home to one of the most celebrated fairs in the entire U.S. Every summer crowds from around the country flock to the Erie County Fair to partake in the season's sights, sounds, tastes and rides. But you might not know that the fair's history offers some incredible facts and today we're discussing five interesting things to know about the Erie County Fair.
- Fair officials claim the Erie County fair to be the original birthplace of the hamburger 131-years ago. That's right, the popular sandwich burst onto the scene locally! Legend has it that brothers Frank and Charles Menches, vendors from Canton, Ohio, came up with their secret recipe on the spot after having run out of sausage. They looked up, saw the sign that read "Hamburg," and the rest is hamburger history. Their secret recipe, which included coffee grounds and brown sugar, has been resurrected this year by a partnership between the fair and a local barbeque restaurant. Check out the local news report below to find out more about the original burger returning to its roots.
- Originally, the Hamburg location for the Fair was just 12 acres. As time went by, the Fairgrounds have grown to cover a whopping 275 acres. The Fair began as just a one-day event held in the fall, but it too has grown to become the 12-day event it is today.
- In 1819 when the Erie County Agricultural Society, then known as the Niagara County Horticultural Society, was formed (private not-for-profit that sponsors the fair annually), the population of the region that would later become Erie and Niagara counties was 2,000. The society was formed to educate and create competition among farmers before Erie and Niagara counties separated in 1821. Due to a struggling economy and difficulty transporting livestock on nearly impassable roads, the Fair wasn't held from 1822 through 1840 before being resurrected in 1841. Although by 1829, thanks to the economic boom provided by the Erie Canal, the population of Erie County had increased to 30,000.
- Lewis F. Allen, who was the Society's president from 1841-1842 and Orlando Allen, Society president in 1847, were instrumental in re-instituting the fair. The fair was moved several times. It was held in downtown Buffalo (where the new Canalside Pizza Plant is located) and was later moved south and was held in such towns as Springville, East Aurora, and West Seneca. By 1868, it was moved to Hamburg, and that has been its home ever since.
- There is an eclectic mix of competition in the air. Last year, there were 12,000 entries in numerous categories -- from fine arts and crafts to animals. Additionally, the fair is the tenth largest fair in both the United States and Canada and is actually bigger than the New York State Fair. In fact, the cherished Western New York tradition set its attendance record in 2014 with a paid attendance of 1,220,101!
This year's Erie County Fair runs from Wednesday, August 10 through Sunday, August 21 and Western New York Catholic schools hopes everyone planning to attend enjoys this last blast of summer.. 2016 proved once again that our network of Catholic schools provide the best private schools
in WNY. We're looking forward to seeing everyone shortly after the fair comes to a close for the start of another fun academic year together. In the interim, let us know what your favorite part of the fair is in the comment section below!