Save on Advance Gate Admission & One Price Ride Days


Starting THIS Sunday, July 1st, fairgoers will be able to save money preparing for the BEST 12 Days of Summer! Tops Friendly Markets has teamed up with the Erie County Fair to offer discounts off gate admission.  Savings are up to 30% off the cost at the gate. The discount cost is $7 per adult and $5 per senior (60+). You can purchase vouchers from checkout cashiers at any participating Tops Friendly Markets locations now through Tuesday August 7th and redeem them at any Fair gate. New this year, customers can take their TOPS vouchers right to the gate for Fair entry eliminating a stop at the ticket booth upon arrival.


Fairgoers can also save on all the classic carnival fun on the famous James E. Strates Shows Midway during Weekday One Price Ride Days on Aug 8th-10th and August 13th-17th.  Vouchers can be purchased in advance for just $25 (save $5) and are also available at Tops Friendly Markets until August 7th.

179th Fair to Celebrate 150 Years in Hamburg


During the autumn of 1868, pioneer members of the Erie County Agricultural Society held their first Fair in the Town of Hamburg. The site, the Hamburg Driving Park Association grounds located on present day McKinley Parkway, then a dirt lane, would eventually become the permanent home of the Erie County Fair. 150 years later, the Erie County Fair will celebrate its “Hamburg Sesquicentennial” with the return of daily fireworks along with other commemorations during the 179th Fair this August.


The nightly fireworks spectacular, produced by Skylighters of Western New York, will begin at 9:30pm, weather permitting and will last 10 minutes. The tradition of daily fireworks at the fair was initially inaugurated in 1927 to coincide with the first use of grounds-wide night-time illumination.  The nightly Skylighters display is presented by Ch. 2 On Your Side, WGRZ-TV.


“Generations of Fairgoers remember winding down their Fair day by watching fireworks,” said CEO & Fair Manager Jessica Underberg. “We are proud to bring back this tradition as we celebrate our sesquicentennial year in Hamburg.”


Founded in 1820, the Fair was held at various locations throughout its early history including sites within the City of Buffalo limits. As the population of the City expanded, the Fair moved to outlying villages such as Lancaster, Orchard Park and East Aurora.


At the Society’s annual meeting during the winter of 1868, a spirited contest for that year’s Fair location took place between supporters of the Union Fairgrounds site in Springville and those who wanted to locate to a racetrack in Hamburg. By a one vote margin the Fair was moved to land owned by Luther Titus and the Hamburg Driving Park Association. The property included a half-mile racetrack, a number of buildings and grandstand seating. It was offered free of charge for holding the annual Fair until 1875. For a few years following 1868, the vote to move the Fair was still held at annual meetings with Hamburg winning each time. By the mid-1870s, it was accepted as the permanent location of the Fair. To further ensure its permanency, in 1880-1881 the Society purchased the grounds outright by acquiring 12 acres from Maria & Naomi Clark of Clark Street and 12 ½ acres from George Pierce. The price was $100 an acre. Now with its own land and control of its future, the Society began a year-by-year development program to transform the County Fair into a regional attraction.


The decision to relocate only 12 miles from the City of Buffalo kicked off a period of unprecedented growth for the Fair, eventually resulting in the Erie County Fair becoming one of the largest fairs in North America. In 2017, The Erie County Fair ranked as the 12th largest fair when compared to all state and county fairs in the United States and Canada.


About Skylighters of Western New York

Skylighters is a locally owned and operated professional fireworks company that has been creating memorable pyrotechnics since 1992.  The company is owned by Western New York native Matthew Shaw. Skylighters has been providing firework displays at the Erie County Fair since 2014.


About the Erie County Fair

The Erie County Agricultural Society is a private not-for-profit membership organization. Established in 1819, the Society is the oldest civic organization in Western New York. The mission of the Erie County Agricultural Society (ECAS), sponsors of the Erie County Fair, is to preserve and enhance, by educational endeavors, the agricultural and historical legacy of New York State. The Fair strives to fulfill appropriate aspects of the agricultural, educational, entertainment and recreational needs of Western New York.  The 179th Erie County Fair will be held August 8th – 19th, 2018. (

Fair to Welcome the 1st Day of Summer with Flurry of Fireworks


It was a wet, early spring and an even longer winter. The Erie County Fair, known in Western New York State as the “Best 12 Days of Summer,” will officially usher in “Summer 2018” with a brief, ground level pyrotechnic display at 6:07am. The time is the exact moment of summer’s arrival known as the summer solstice. Tune into local media outlets to see the display live on television.


In addition to celebrating the 1st day of summer, the pyrotechnic display also promotes the return of a longtime Fair tradition… daily fireworks. Each night of the Fair (August 8-19), a fireworks display produced by Skylighters of Western New York will begin at 9:30pm.


The return of daily fireworks is proudly presented by Ch. 2 On Your Side, WGRZ-TV.





Buffalo News: The Leadership Behind Your Erie County Fair – Jessica Underberg


Jessica Underberg learned some things growing up on a farm in Collins, where she was the oldest of six children. “You can do work and be miserable. Or you can do work and have a good time,” she said. “Either way, you have to do the work. I choose to do the work and have a good time.” The second thing she learned as a child: You do the work until it’s done, not when the clock says it’s time to go.


Combine a farm upbringing with a belief in hard work and having fun and you come to see that Underberg might be the ideal choice for her current job: manager/CEO of the Erie County Fair and Erie County Agricultural Society.


That means she is running the Erie County Fair, one of the 10 largest fairs in the country, and overseeing Hamburg Gaming, Buffalo Raceway and the 275-acre fairgrounds with 112 buildings and structures, where there are activities virtually every week of the year run by 50 full-time employees. The number of workers swells to 500 during the 12-day fair in August.


Underberg, 41, is the youngest person, and first woman, to head the fair, but that’s not a story, she said. “As long as I’m doing the job, who cares?” she said. It has been a slow steady climb to the fair’s top job for Underberg, who succeeded longtime CEO Dennis Lang. She started working the front reception desk at the fair, and has moved through most departments over 23 years. She shows her no-nonsense approach when she digs in and works with her staff.


“We’re a group here,” she said. “I’m no better than you, you’re no better than me.  We each have talents, and to pull this off, we have to rely on everybody’s talents, because not one of us can do this alone.” Underberg’s connection to the fair predates her employment. She remembers she fell in love with the fair as a child. “The fair is like Disney to me. Growing up on a dairy farm, we never vacationed. We camped in the woods across the street, because we could still walk home and do chores that night and in the morning,” she said.


But every year they would go to the fair to show cattle. She also remembers 1992, when she was named master showman in the Junior Department beef show. “That’s the year I finally beat Freddie Bond. I worked so hard to earn that plaque. Freddie forced me to work harder,” she said. That plaque, sponsored by Freddie’s father at Bond Meats of West Valley, now hangs on the wall in her office under the grandstand. Underberg brings respect for traditions of the fair with the willingness to try new things. But she says getting the right mix is like walking on a tightrope.


Shortly after she took over, she moved the offices of all but one staff member, moving the receptionist’s desk to the main door, the concessions department closer to the front door and making better use of space. She also challenged the staff to take a new look at the fair. “I kept coming back to, if nothing changes, nothing will change,” she said. A few weeks later, those in charge of the Agriculture Discovery Center told her they wanted to sell the huge combine. The expensive piece of farm machinery was a signature in the building, and had been there since it opened four years ago. She said yes. Staff agreed the website needed an update, so a new website was created. “I feel like we’re stale, I feel like we have to freshen up,”  she said. Other changes include moving the racing pigs to where the lumberjacks were last year to give them more room, moving Weidner’s chicken barbecue stand next to the Conservation building where the butterflies were, and putting the butterflies to where the backyard circus was. Backyard Circus is not returning, and a glass blower is going to go where the chainsaw wood carver stood.


A circus will be located at Gate Five and Gate Four will be pushed out toward South Park Avenue. “If it doesn’t work out,” she said, “we’ll change it next year.” The moves, she said, are a way of changing things up without rocking the entire boat.


Working at the fair is a family affair for Underberg, whose two sisters and brother also work there. “I didn’t hire any of them,” she is quick to say. Their mother, Jenny Gernatt, was a little worried about how they would navigate their jobs once Jesse became the boss. But Underberg, the mother of two daughters, 13 and 14, is used to “bossing” her younger siblings around, her mother said. “Do they give her problems? They probably do,” Gernatt said, but she added, “When she needs a job done and she looks at them, they know.” And Underberg expects her siblings to perform. “I hold them to a higher standard,” she said. “I have to.”


One of Underberg’s recent days started at 5:30 a.m.. She went to the gym and got to work by 7:15 a.m. There were meetings with staff, a news conference on the return of Weidner’s barbecue chicken stand after a fire last year, more meetings with staff, and a session that night for fair volunteers that was over about 8 p.m. There is no typical day for the fair manager, who can tackle whether to keep water service at two properties the fair is acquiring for parking, or figuring out if a major concert could be held on the day typically reserved for firefighters.


It became apparent that the only night the fair would be able to book ZZ Top was Friday, Aug. 10 – Firemen’s Day. That’s the day when hundreds of area volunteer firefighters and their families gather on the infield in front of the grandstand and later parade around the track. Underberg checked with the head of security, the person in charge of placing chairs in front of the stage, the cleanup crew, firefighters and others, to see if the two events could take place on the same day. The answer was yes, with a few modifications. The firefighters will be shifted away from the stage, and the parade will start earlier, to be over about 7 p.m. The concert will start at 8:30 p.m. “Now it’s a matter of planning the logistics and pulling it off,” she said.


Pulling it off is sometimes a matter of hitting an ever-changing target. She’s got the farming and show experience to talk about the best ways to keep 4-H exhibitors happy. But there are all kinds of entertainment at the fair, from tractor pulls to demolition derbies to concerts. “Being here makes me no different than anybody else. I just have more responsibilities, that’s all,” Underberg said. “We’re pulling the rope in the same direction, and that’s all that matters. As long as you’re picking up the rope. Because one thing I don’t tolerate is lazy. If you’re not picking up the rope, we’re going to talk.” Underberg is well-known when she walks around the fairgrounds, said Marla Calico, CEO of the International Association of Fairs & Expos, who knows the fair and Underberg well. Underberg will be chairwoman of the organization’s board of directors next year – the youngest person to serve in that capacity.


“She’s got an inquisitive mind, she’s got open ears. If she asks how you’re doing, she really wants to know,” she said. “You can be a dictator, you can be a boss, but to be a leader you’ve got to have something that naturally makes people want to follow you.” Underberg understands that the Agricultural Society board took a leap of faith on her. She not only wants to make them proud, she wants to honor the people who helped get her to this place, including former CEO Lang and former manage Lloyd L. Lamb who hired her 23 years ago. That’s why after she got the job, Underberg sent Lamb one of her new business cards with a note: “Thanks for taking a chance on a farm kid.”

16th Annual Spring Dairy Preview Continues Through Saturday


The Erie County Agricultural Society is proud to present the 16th Annual Western New York Spring Dairy Preview. The show is taking place inside the Agriculture Discovery Center at the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg, New York today (Friday, June 15th) to Saturday, June 16th. This year, over 300 head of cattle from throughout New York State, Pennsylvania, Canada, Ohio and Michigan are expected to compete for over $3,000 in awards and premiums. The show’s goal is to provide a competition experience prior to showing at local county and/or state fairs this summer. The Western New York Spring Dairy Preview is sponsored by the Erie County Agricultural Society. Highlights include:


Friday, June 15th, 9am –Jersey, Guernsey, Ayrshire & AOB Show; Judged by Mr. Justin Burdette of Mercersburg, PA.

Friday, June 15th 6pm – Youth Showmanship- Showmen are judged based on their knowledge of their animal and their ability to show off the animals best attributes. To be judged by Mr. Justin Crowley of West Hastings, Ontario, Canada.

Saturday, June 16th, 9am – Holstein, Red and White & Brown Swiss Show; Judged by Mr. Justin Burdette of Mercersburg, PA.


The Western New York Spring Dairy Preview is sponsored by the Erie County Agricultural Society.





NEW! Introducing Erie County Fair American Pale Ale

Just in time for the official start of summer, Buffalo-Niagara beer enthusiasts will be able to experience the taste of an award winning brew at home. A partnership with Buffalo’s Flying Bison Brewing Company will allow bottled Erie County Fair American Pale Ale to be available at local supermarkets and beer stores. Six-packs of the Erie County Fair American Pale Ale are expected to begin arriving on store shelves the week of June 25th. The limited edition Erie County Fair American Pale Ale will be available through Try-It Distributing at Buffalo area Tops Friendly Markets and 17 Western New York locations of Consumers Beverages, both whom are partners of the Erie County Fair, among other retail outlets.


“This partnership between a major brewery and a fair is the first of its kind in New York State and joins a handful of state & county fairs in North America who have put a beer into commercial package production,” said Marty Biniasz, Erie County Fair Marketing Manager. “The bottling and distribution of the Erie County Fair American Pale Ale is a creative extension of our brand that celebrates the region’s blue ribbon best.”


The brew’s recipe is based on an American Pale Ale originally submitted by Western New York homebrewers John Crossett and Brian Millville as part of the Erie County Fair’s annual Home Brew Competition. Once crowned “Best In Show,” the recipe was submitted to the Brewmaster at Flying Bison.  The original draught version proved so popular with fairgoers that it sold out within the first few days of the Fair.


“The Erie County Fair is an American original and local favorite. Flying Bison Brewing Company is Buffalo’s original craft brewery and local favorite. It’s great that we are able to work together to bring a delicious beer to market for the summer,” said Tim Herzog, founder of Flying Bison. “It is uniquely Buffalo to have a beer to remind us of our upcoming Erie County Fair. The American Pale Ale is full of the crisp, clean flavors that make a summer’s afternoon with friends even more enjoyable.”


Learn more about the brew, the Erie County Fair Homebrew Competition and where to purchase at:


About the Erie County Fair

The Erie County Agricultural Society is a private not-for-profit membership organization. Established in 1819, the Society is the oldest civic organization in Western New York. The mission of the Erie County Agricultural Society (ECAS), sponsors of the Erie County Fair, is to preserve and enhance, by educational endeavors, the agricultural and historical legacy of New York State. The Fair strives to fulfill appropriate aspects of the agricultural, educational, entertainment and recreational needs of Western New York. The 2018 Erie County Fair will be held August 8th – 19th (


About the Flying Bison Brewing Company

Flying Bison Brewing Company, makers of Western New York State’s best-selling craft beer Rusty Chain, is a packaging brewery located in the city of Buffalo. When it opened for business in 2000, it was the first stand-alone brewery to operate in the city proper since 1972.  The brewery was founded by award-winning brewer Tim Herzog. In 2015, the company opened a modern brewery complex in the Larkinville district of Buffalo that features a taproom, patio and behind the scenes brewery tours. In addition to Rusty Chain, Flying Bison’s core brews include 716 IPA and Larkin Lager. Well known seasonal offerings include Aviator Red Irish-style Ale, Buffalo Kölsch 716, Blizzard Bock and ‘Juice Caboose’ New England-style IPA. (


NEW! Daily Flag Retreat Ceremony to Honor Veterans & Active Military

The 179th Erie County Fair will see the inauguration of a daily patriotic tradition that will honor veterans and active military members. Beginning August 8th at 6:30p and continuing each evening during the 12-day run of the Fair, a flag retreat ceremony will be held at Slade Park presented by Made In America stores.


“We are asking fairgoers to pause and reflect on our great nation and to remember the men & women for their service, sacrifice and dedication to protecting our country,” said Jessica Underberg, Erie County Fair CEO. “We feel this is a wonderful way to extend the mission of our Veterans Day committee to span the entire Fair.”


During each 8-10 minute ceremony, participating fairgoers will be asked to join in the Pledge of Allegiance. As a lone bugler sounds retreat, an American flag will be lowered and folded by an honorary color guard from a local VFW, Amvets or Legion post. The flag, which was flown during that day at the Fair, will be presented to a veteran and/or an active member of the military who will be the “Flag Retreat Honoree of the Day.” The Erie County Fair Marching Band will perform the “Star Spangled Banner,” a chorus of “God Bless America” and the “United States Armed Forces Medley.” Made In America Stores will be donating “made in the USA” flags to be used in the daily presentation.


“For Americans, there’s no higher honor than to serve our nation’s military,” said Mark Andol, founder and owner of Made In America Stores. “As Americans, there’s no greater privilege than to say thank you. We are proud to support, what we hope, will be a new tradition at the Fair.”


To nominate a veteran or active member of the military to be named “Flag Retreat Honoree of the Day,” the public is being asked to complete a nomination form available at any Made in America Store location or at the Fair’s Main Office. Those chosen must be available to attend one of the Flag Retreat Ceremonies between August 8th-19th at 6:30p. They will receive a full-sized American flag, (4) fair admission passes, a parking pass, a Strates Shows midway card and $20 in meal tickets. Deadline for name submissions is July 20th.


Weidner’s BBQ Returning to Erie County Fair after 2017 Fire

The Erie County Agricultural Society has announced that Weidner’s BBQ will be returning to the 179th Erie County Fair after a devastating fire destroyed its long-time location on the Fairgrounds last year. One of the Fair’s heritage concessionaires, Weidner’s BBQ, has been an Erie County Fair tradition for 62 years.


During the evening of Saturday, August 19, 2017 a fire destroyed the six decade old home of Weidner’s BBQ which was located behind the Grandstand. Weidner’s new location will be situated on the Avenue of Flags near the Conservation Building. As the Fairgrounds has continued to evolve to accommodate a growing schedule of agricultural shows and events, the Fair took the opportunity to relocate Weidner’s BBQ away from the show barns. The new location will provide a larger, park-like setting for increased dining capacity.


“We are excited to welcome the Gerber Family and Weidner’s BBQ back to the Fair for their 62nd year,” said Jessica Underberg, Fair CEO. “For many, it would not be the same Fair without a chicken dinner from Weidner’s. We wish them continued success as they open their new Fair location in August.”


“We are extremely happy to be coming back to the Fair,” said Weidner’s Ryan Gerber. “Many of our employees only work during the Fair so for me it’s like a friends and family reunion for two weeks.”


In 1956, Eden-based chicken farmer Bert Weidner, his wife and his two brothers Jerry and Fran set up a small stand at the Erie County Fair and began serving BBQ chicken. They slow cooked fresh chicken over an open flame that was basted with their own special recipe BBQ sauce until it was cooked to perfection- tender and juicy on the inside, crispy and golden brown on the outside. The family eventually expanded its menu to include grilled steak and ribs. In the 1990s, Charlie Gerber and his wife, Mary Weidner, took over operations to continue the family tradition.


“The Fair is something, as a family, we look forward to each year,” said Weidner’s owner Charlie Gerber. “I believe our loyal customers think the same.”


In addition to BBQ chicken and ribs, Weidner’s will again be featuring the “1885 Burger” at its new Fair location. The burger celebrates the invention of the “hamburger sandwich” by the Menches Brothers of Ohio at the 1885 Erie County Fair.