Erie County Fair Stakes Races Scheduled For Wednesday, July 10th

The 2019 Erie County Fair Sire Stakes Races will take place at the historic “Hamburg Oval” on Wednesday, July 10th at 1pm. This event is free and open to the public. The New York Sire Stakes promote the breeding, buying, and racing of Standardbred horses in New York State, and are administered by the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund.



The Erie County Fair Race is part of a series of non-pari-mutuel betting harness races hosted at county fairs across New York State. The races are open to eligible two and three-year-old New York Standardbreds and are separated into nine divisions based on age and gait. The start of the race is considered the first official event of the 180th Erie County Fair that opens its gates on Wednesday, August 7th.



Harness racing at the Erie County Fair is a tradition that dates back to the 1850s when the Fair was held at various racetracks across the County. Racing at the “Hamburg Oval” pre-dates the Erie County Fair’s move to its current location at the Hamburg Fairgrounds as the site was originally home to the Hamburg Driving Grounds.


Who Will Be the 2019 Ultimate Fairgoer?


Are you or someone you know deserving of the title of the greatest “Fair Fan” in Western New York? The Erie County Fair is now accepting nominations for someone to be named the 2019 Ultimate Fairgoer.


Established in 2005, the Erie County Fair’s Ultimate Fairgoer honor is bestowed each year on an individual who lives and breathes the Erie County Fair all year long. The chosen candidate is not only passionate and enthusiastic about the Fair but actively promotes and shares their love with family, friends and the community.


Nomination forms are currently available on the Fair’s website, and must be submitted by Thursday, July 25th. Nominations must include a short essay as to why the candidate, above everyone else, deserves the title of “Ultimate Fairgoer.” Past winning nominations have included photos, references, news clippings or collateral materials that provide further background. Management and staff of the Erie County Agricultural Society and/or the Erie County Fair are not eligible.


The 2019 Erie County Fair Ultimate Fairgoer will be officially announced during a ceremony outside of the Fair’s McKinley Gate on Opening Day, Wednesday August 7th at 11:30am.


Past honorees are:

2005 – Barbara Brader, Hamburg

2006 – Sue Montgomery, Hamburg

2007 – Terry Nowatka, Colden

2008 – Father Ray Donohue, Fredonia

2009 – Marion Wittmeyer, Lawtons

2010 – Paulette Smith, Hinsdale

2011 – Helene Edie, Hamburg

2012 – Tim Beasor, Pompano Beach

2013 – Marty Brownsey, West Seneca

2014 – Sandy Kristka, Hamburg

2015 – Mary Ellen Bossert, Hamburg

2016 – Jimmy Barrett, Bel Air, MD

2017 – Mary Roberts, Hamburg

2018 – Judy Wilder, Hamburg


Summerific Savings on Advance Gate Admission & One Price Ride Days at the 180th Erie County Fair

Image by Tom Burns


Starting Monday, 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 over 40% off the cost at the gate (2019 full price admission is $12 adults, $9 seniors). The discount sale 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 6th and redeem them at any Fair gate upon arrival (valid everyday).


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 7th-9th and August 12th-16th.  Vouchers can be purchased in advance for just $25 (save $5) until August 6th. New this year is the return of the famous Sky Wheel (double Ferris Wheel) to celebrate the 95th anniversary of the Strates Shows at the Erie County Fair. See a complete list of rides and height requirements 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 180th Erie County Fair will be held August 7th – 18th, 2019. (

Nominate Vets & Active Military to Be Honored During Our Daily Flag Retreat Ceremony


The 180th Erie County Fair will honor veterans and active military during its daily flag retreat ceremony at Slade Park. Now in its second year, this patriotic tradition will begin on Wednesday, August 7th at 6:30p and continuing each evening during the 12-day run of the Fair.


“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 7th-18th 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 26th.


The Erie County Fair Flag Retreat Ceremony is sponsored by Made In America Stores.

Erie County Fair’s Popular Vet Camp Returns In 2019


The Erie County Agricultural Society will again offer children between the ages of 11-14 the opportunity to work first-hand with veterinarians and animals. The Erie County Fair Vet Camp, a half day education immersion experience, will take place on Tuesday, August 13th and Thursday, August 15th. Sessions will focus on a variety of learning disciplines that include:


Pet Wellness & First Aid: Children will learn about general pet welfare and what to do in an emergency situation.  Participants will gain an understanding on what to look for when a pet is not feeling well and what should be included in a home pet first aid kit.


Dairy Cow Health: Attendees will be exposed to what it takes to be a Farm Animal Veterinarian through activities like how to administer medication, the reading of vitals (heart rate, temperature, respiratory) and how to check for healthy rumen sounds.


Small Ruminant Farm Animals:  Sessions will gain knowledge on how to approach and handle sheep and goats, check for healthy digestion, respiratory and proper nutrition. Children will also have the chance to work one on one with an animal.


The program is limited to three sessions that will accommodate 30 children each.  Registration is now open and will be available on a first come first serve basis. The cost for participation is $10 per child. Each participant will receive a Vet Camp t-shirt, lunch and will take home a vet supplies goodie bag. Applicants must be between the ages of 11-14 by January 1, 2019 with proper documentation (copy of birth certificate). Applications are now online at and must be postmarked by June 21st to be eligible for consideration. Questions may be directed to the Fair’s Agriculture Education Office at (716)649-3900 ext. 6499 or by emailing Education Coordinator Amber Klein at


The 2019 Erie County Fair Vet Camp program is sponsored by Medaille College and the Niagara Frontier Veterinary Society.

WNY Preview Classic this Weekend at the Fairgrounds


The Erie County Agricultural Society is proud to present the 19th Annual Western New York Hog & Lamb Preview Classic. The show is scheduled to take place inside the Agriculture Discovery Center at the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg, New York May 31st to June 2nd. Over $6,000 in cash awards and premiums will be presented during this New York Livestock Circuit approved show.


This is a National Junior Swine Association (NJSA) recommended show that is open to exhibitors of all ages. The show’s goal is to provide a competition experience prior to showing at local county and/or state fairs this summer. The schedule for the weekend includes:


Friday, May 31st, 1p – Youth Livestock Judging Event

Friday, May 31st. 5p – Junior Skill-A-Thon

Saturday, June 1st, 8a – Hog & Lamb Shows #1

Saturday, June 1st, 2p – Goat Show

Sunday, June 2nd, 8a – Hog & Lamb Shows #2


The hog shows will be judged by Mr. Greg Krahn of Westfield, IN and Mr. Quest Newberry of Bryan, TX. Judging the lambs will be Mr. Cooper Bounds of Thorntown, IN and Mr. Denton Lowe of Amber, OK.  Mr. Lowe will also be judging the goat competition.


For more information visit and click on “Livestock/ Equine Events.” You can also call the Fairgrounds at (716) 649-3900. The Western New York Hog & Lamb Preview Classic is sponsored by the Erie County Agricultural Society.

Happy National Hamburger Day

A New Book... by Christopher Carosa, "Hamburger Dreams" – How Classic Crime Solving Techniques Helped Crack the Case of America’s Greatest Culinary Mystery... provides detailed information about Charles and Frank Menches at the Erie County Fair.
A New Book… by Christopher Carosa, “Hamburger Dreams” – How Classic Crime Solving Techniques Helped Crack the Case of America’s Greatest Culinary Mystery… provides detailed information about Charles and Frank Menches at the Erie County Fair. Learn more at:


Today (May 28th) is “National Hamburger Day,” a day of great importance to Western New York and the Erie County Fair in Hamburg, New York. It was at the 1885 Erie County Fair that the hamburger sandwich was invented by Frank and Charles Menches of Canton, Ohio.


“Birth of the Hamburger in Hamburg”


Canton, Ohio natives Frank and Charles Menches were food vendors at the 1885 Erie County Fair, also known as the Hamburg Fair. Legend has it that during the course of the Fair, the Menches ran out of their signature menu item of pork sausage sandwiches. Their local supplier, Hamburg butcher Andrew Klein, was reluctant to butcher more hogs during a period of unseasonable late summer heat and suggested to substitute the use of ground beef.  The brothers fired some up, but both found it dry and bland. They added coffee, brown sugar and other ingredients to create a unique taste. The original sandwiches were sold with just ketchup and sliced onions. With new found success with their beef sandwich, they christened it the “hamburger” sandwich after the Erie County Fair’s home town of Hamburg, New York.


Relishing in the Menches Success!


There have been other claims made about the origin of the hamburger sandwich. As concessionaire traveled from one fair to another, it was common to emulate the success of other vendors and share “best practices.” As a result, they would make claims of their own as the “burger” made regional debuts:


  • October 1885 – After learning about the Menches success, fair concessionaire Charlie Nagreen claimed to have sold a meatball between two slices of bread at the Outagamie County Fair in Seymour, Wisconsin.
  • Late 1880s – Fletcher Davis of Athens, Texas claimed to have invented the hamburger. According to oral histories he opened a lunch counter and served a ‘burger’ of fried ground beef patties with mustard and Bermuda onion between two slices of bread, with a pickle on the side. Davis later went on to sell the burger at the 1904 World’s Fair.
  • 1891 – Otto Kuase said he invented the hamburger in 1891 after he cooked a beef patty in butter and topped with a fried egg.
  • 1900 – Louis Lassen of Louis’ Lunch, a small lunch wagon in New Haven, Connecticut, is said to have sold the first hamburger and steak sandwich in the U.S. in 1900, 15 years after the Menches Bros.


 Why the Erie County Fair Menches Hamburger Story “Cuts the Mustard”


  • The Menches Brothers 1885 claim is the oldest “birth of the burger” sandwich story in the United States.
  • No other invention story can stake a claim to why their sandwich is called a “hamburger,” our story can!
  • Descendants of the Menches Brothers have an original, handwritten burger recipe.
  • The Menches family is still in the burger business today. No other claim still has an operating restaurant serving the original recipe.
  • In the 1920s, carnival historian John C. Kunzog interviewed Frank Menches about his experience at the Erie County Fair. His detailed hamburger story was published in the 1970 book, “Tanbark & Tinsel.”
  • Successful entrepreneurs, the Menches not only claim hamburger history, but are also credited for pioneering the production of ice cream cones and creating “Gee-Whiz,” a caramel coated peanut and popcorn snack now known as Cracker Jacks.
  • The National Hamburger Festival is held annually in the Menches home town of Akron, Ohio. Restaurants from across the United States gather to pay homage to good ol’ Frank & Charles Menches.
  • Founded in 1985 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Menches Brothers invention, The Village of Hamburg hosts the annual BurgerFest and is one of the biggest annual events in the region.
  • The invention of the hamburger story is featured in an exhibit inside the Erie County Fair’s Heritage & History Center Museum. The display includes a child’s sized burger concession stand that allows kids to “serve up” play hamburgers.
  • News outlets around the globe including the BBC to Japanese national television have told the Erie County Fair story over the decades. The 1885 Burger Store, a restaurant in Taipei City, Taiwan, China, honors the Erie County Fair legend.


National Birth of the Burger Day (September 18th)


In addition to “National Hamburger Day” on May 28, Western New York also annually celebrates “National Birth of the Burger Day” on September 18th.  Until the early 1920s, the Erie County Fair was held mid to late September or as late as early October to celebrate the agricultural harvest. The 1885 Erie County Fair, the event that saw the invention of the hamburger sandwich, was held September 16th-18th, 1885.


Party Shelter Reservations Now Being Accepted For Erie County Fair


Plan to host a company picnic, organization outing, family reunion or children’s birthday party at the Fair. The Erie County Agricultural Society is pleased to announce that reservations are now being accepted for its picnic shelter program during the 2019 Erie County Fair, August 7 to 18, 2019. Shelter reservations are on a first come, first served basis.


Shelters are located at Hickory Tree Park just steps from the Fair’s midway, entertainment, livestock barns, games and shopping. This tranquil Fairgrounds setting can accommodate 25 to 1,000 guests. Each shelter reservation includes tables/chairs, electricity, option for discount gate admissions and ride packages.  Guests are welcome to bring their own food and beverages but the use of glass containers, alcohol, grills and outside caterers is prohibited.  Patrons wishing to have their party catered may use one of our three Fair vendors that include BW’s BBQ, Chiavetta’s Catering or Weidner’s BBQ.


For more information, including rental rates and ticket packages, visit or contact the Fair’s Liz Collins at (716) 649-3900 x6206. Reservation and payment must be completed by Wednesday July, 24th.

Western New York State’s Largest Youth Talent Show Returns


Do you have a child that can sing, dance or play an instrument? Do they have a special talent just waiting to be discovered? If that’s the case, the Erie County Fair is looking to see who’s got talent! Applications are now being accepted for the region’s largest talent competition scheduled to take place Friday, August 9th on the Tops Friendly Markets Avenue of Flag Stage.


Youth are encouraged to participate in one of two divisions. The “mini” division is geared towards 12 & under while the “maxi” division highlights performers 13 & over. Winners of the Erie County Fair Talent Show are eligible to compete in the New York State Fair Talent Show in Syracuse.


There is no entry fee to compete and all contestants will receive free admission into the Erie County Fair. Rules, guidelines and applications are available at: Deadline for submissions are Friday, July 26th.

Brewing Of Best in Show Beer At Flying Bison: German Leichtbier

Winning home brewers Brian Milleville of Sanborn, John Crossett of North Tonawanda, and Mark Zambron of West Seneca at Flying Bison Brewery on May 17, 2019 during the brewing of "Best In Show" beer 2019.
Winning home brewers Brian Milleville of Sanborn, John Crossett of North Tonawanda, and Mark Zambron of West Seneca at Flying Bison Brewery on May 17, 2019 during the brewing of “Best In Show” beer 2019.


On Friday, May 17th, the brewing of the 2019 “Best In Show” beer took place at Flying Bison Brewing Company in Larkinville.


A collaborative brew by three Western New York State home brewers has been named “Best of Show” during the Erie County Fair’s 2019 Home Brew Competition.  A German Leichtbier brewed by John Crossett of North Tonawanda, Brian Milleville of Sanborn and Mark Zambron of West Seneca took top honors during the 6th annual competition. A panel of judges and master judges evaluated the submissions according to nationally recognized Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) protocols. A complete listing of winners is available online at:


According to BJCP’s published style guidelines, German Leichtbier (pronounced “LYESHT-beer) is a pale, light-bodied German lager with lower alcohol and calories than normal-strength beers. Moderately bitter with noticeable malt and hop flavors. Judges remarked that the winning entry had “impressive flavor and aroma” for a light bodied beer and was “crisp and refreshing.”


Once crowned “Best Of Show,” the brewers submitted the beer’s recipe to the professional brew staff at Flying Bison Brewery. Kegged product, based on the homebrew recipe, will be offered by Try-It Distributing to select Western New York establishments for public purchase prior to the Fair. During the 180th Erie County Fair, on premise “beer gardens” will feature the award-winning beer. Production of the winning recipe will take place on Friday, May 17th beginning at 9:30am at Flying Bison’s facilities located at 840 Seneca Street in Larkinville.


In the Erie County Fair’s inaugural Home Hard Cider Making Competition, cider maker Jeffrey Clift of Buffalo won “Best in Show Cider” with his “All American Cider.” In total, 23 entries were received in the cider competition. Once named the 2019 “Erie County Fair Best In Show Cider,” the winning home hard cider maker received a gold medal for excellence and then began the process of being professionally reproduced by BlackBird Cider Works for sale during the Fair. A complete listing of cider winners is available at:


The Erie County Fair Home Brew and Cider competitions are sponsored by the Erie County Agricultural Society with support from Try-It Distributing, Flying Bison Brewing, Black Bird Cider Works and KATZ Americas.


The judging of home brewed beer is just one of the competitions held annually by the Erie County Fair. In 2019, over 13,0000 entries are expected to be received and judged by the Fair’s Competitive Exhibits Office. The wide range of ribbon winning categories include agriculture, conservation and creative arts among others. 2019 entries are currently being accepted online at


Jeffrey Clift’s “Best in Show Cider.”