HAMBURG, NY - With the noontime Wednesday opening of the Erie County Fair, a new manager is in charge and she has the background to head up the Erie County Agricultural Society.
With the arrival of some farm fan favorites like the pigs, goats, sheep, cows, and horses...and the assembly of the midway rides...and the crucial pre-fair briefing for the vendors, the stage will be set for the opening of the Erie County Fair with a new boss at the helm.
Jessica Underberg actually started there part-time in 1996 and moved up through the ranks.
"I never dreamt I would be the CEO. But this place is like Disney to me. It was always special to me. We didn't vacation. I grew up on a dairy farm so we didn't vacation, we needed to be home. So coming to the fair was the biggest deal of the year."
Now with that experience, she has a vision or the fair mixing change with the perennial favorites.
"What do we do, why do we do it, can we do it better and do we need to do it at all? And just kinda shaking everything out on the table and saying what is the best way to put this together."
But Underberg acknowledges walking that line between tradition and new things. Like blending the always popular Fireman's Night on Friday with the ZZ - TOP concert the same evening. And mixing up the layout of the fair while stressing agriculture, food, and fun. "Dairy is the biggest ag-industry in New York state. We focus quite heavy on that. Food is the number one reason that people come to the fairgrounds and animals is number two...so I think everybody that might be a on diet kinda sets that aside for these 12 days."
And she adds, "There's nothing better than opening day when you open the gates and see the smiles and you see the families going through and they're making memories that I had and my parents and grandparents had...that's what it's about."
Opening day is also Channel 2 day. That means it's only $2 to get in - or free with a canned food donation to the food bank of Western New York. Again gates open at noon.
And each night at 9:30, weather permitting, there will be fireworks sponsored by 2 On Your Side.