by Mark Dryfhout
Citizens of Niagara County are eagerly anticipating the return of their very own Niagara County Fair, sponsored by the Cornell Cooperative Extension Niagara County.
The five-day event will occur daily from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday, July 31, to Saturday, Aug. 3, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 4. The fairground is located at 4487 Lake Ave., Lockport.
Admission is $3 per person and non-exclusive, while children under the age of 6 have free admission. Parking is free, so make sure to pack the family vehicle full of friends and loved ones.
The annual Niagara County Fair is a family-friendly event, featuring entertainment and attractions for all age groups.
Cathy Maloney, Cooperative Extension executive director and fair director, said the family-friendly environment at the fair is one of the main reasons the event has such high popularity in the county. "(The fair) represents what this county has to offer," she says. "It's the heart of what we are."
Regardless of reason, the 30,000 attendance record from last year's fair is a testament in itself to the popularity of the annual occasion. Reproducing the same results is too monumental a task for just one director; Maloney credits her dedicated staff and volunteers for being the beating heart of the fair. "I have a good group of volunteers," she says. "This wouldn't be possible without them."
Since last year's fair, Maloney and her small army of volunteers have been working diligently to replicate last year's success with familiar favorites from fairs past, while at the same time generating new attractions that will bring excitement to the festivities.
For those who are looking for a county fair classic, there's live singing, dance performances, home-cooked food stations, beverage stalls, vehicle shows, parades, carnival rides, contests, competitions, meat auctions, and much more.
With a vast array of shows and attractions, the county fair has a continuous selection of musical talent lined up for entertainment. Notable performers include Jonesie and the Cruisers, 2nd Time Around, Niagara Fiddlers, 7th Heaven, Caribbean Extravaganza Steel Drum Band and Tom Keefer & Celtic Cross. Internationally acclaimed Craig Wilkins will perform live on the covered stage Thursday at 7 p.m.
The county fair even offers a unique show by Rob and Carol Allen of Wheatfield, who are returning by popular demand to mystify and befuddle the audience with their magic show. The Allens are a dynamic duo that has been in the magic performing business since 1976 on an international level. Rob presides over the Performing Magicians Association, an organization made up of full-time performing magicians from around the world.
The magic will be on the main stage on Friday at 8 and 9 p.m.
Also featured in the long list of fair activities is the children's livestock showing. Every year, the county's youth present their best livestock in an animal showing of cows, chickens, goats, pigs, horses, sheep, and even guinea pigs. The event will determine who among the county's youth is the best livestock shower, as well as which animals show best.
Another furry facet of this year's county fair includes live performances by "world class K-9 athletes" - K-9s in Flight. Rescued dogs from shelters all over the country perform choreographed shows with complex jumping and Frisbee routines alongside their trainers. The K-9s in Flight team hope to teach spectators about the importance of pet adoption, nutrition, and the extraordinary bond between a man and his best friend. Performances will occur daily on the fairgrounds for free, and all are welcome to meet the performers and their trainers after the shows.
Want to turn your attention to an event you can really sink your teeth into? On Wednesday, July 31, at 8 a.m., the Farm-City Breakfast will commence, sponsored by Niagara County Community College. Tickets for the breakfast can be purchased at the fairgrounds before the event or in the administrative building for $7.
Other ticket-only food offerings include the Cornell Cooperative Extension chicken barbecue ($9) on Thursday, Aug. 1, at noon, and the Grand Lodge F&A Masons fish fry ($9 whole/$7 half) on Friday, Aug. 2, from 4:30 to 8 p.m.
Various food vendors will be stationed throughout the fairgrounds selling their signature selections. Popular vendors include the 4-H Milk Bar, which deals in milk shakes, floats, sodas, ice cream, hamburgers, hot dogs, etc., and Donna's Snack Bar, selling all kinds of burgers, barbecue pork, sandwiches, fries, salads, and desserts.
Other vendors represent Boy Scout Troop No. 40, Louie's Pizza, D&F Enterprises, Fowler's Taffy, GCC Ventures Inc., Martino's Meeting Place, Dana Morrison - roasted nuts, Niagara County Farm Bureau, Pop in Bob's, Renko's Meat Processing, Seas the Day Specialty Seafood, Taylor's Coffee Bean Café, Taylor's Doughboy and Wolf Maple Products.
Along with the various concession stands and home cooking, adults will be able to enjoy a refreshing beverage at one of two beer tents or sample custom concoctions at the Amateur Wine Makers' Contest.
Don't miss out on the opportunity to share your experience with family, friends, loved ones, or even an acquaintance. In the words of Maloney, "It's not just a fair, it's a community event."
For more, a complete schedule of events, or information about how to get involved in the contests and interactive events, visit the Niagara County Fair's website at www.cceniagaracounty.org.