by Susan Mikula Campbell
Niagara County Legislature Chairman Bill Ross has a full load of events listed on his calendar for July.
The Wheatfield resident has one event double-circled on that calendar, however - Wednesday, July 30.
That's when the Niagara County Fair opens at the Lockport fairgrounds with the annual Farm-City Breakfast at 8 a.m. Ross has been a regular there for years.
"I've got a lot of things in July, but this is one of the highlights of the summer," Ross said. "I get there at quarter to 8, in fact; I always like a good seat."
Ross is a special fan of the sweet rolls, but the all-you-can eat breakfast also includes sausages, eggs, hash browns, juice, milk and coffee served family-style on long tables. Ross says the breakfast, sponsored by Niagara County Community College, is a bargain at $7 a ticket, and it's not a secret, because the food tent is always full for this event.
The 2014 Niagara County Fair, put on by the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County, runs July 30 to Aug. 3, and there's a multitude of food, rides, music, displays and special events each day.
In addition to the Farm-City Breakfast day on Wednesday, Ross said he usually returns at least one other day during the fair's run "just to walk around for a while," often with his wife and/or one of his urban/suburban grandchildren in tow.
"It's a great event, a nice thing to bring children and grandchildren down for," he said, adding that he always likes to see the 4-H projects, many of which the participants have worked on for a full year.
Fairgoers also can learn about butterflies with SkyRiver Butterfly Exhibit ($1 to enter the exhibit), enjoy daily workshops from Air Sculpture Balloon Art and watch art being created from logs with the Sawdogs Chainsaw Carver. Returning this year with a new show is "K-9s In Flight - Frisbee Dog and High Jump Show."
New at the fair is the Agriculture Discovery Zone and Demonstration Garden. In this tent (located near the Sheriff's Tent), find interactive displays about agriculture and food systems in Niagara County. Follow the path though the tent and exit into the CCE Demonstration Garden to learn about container and vertical gardens, beneficial insects and garden maintenance. Follow the marked path from the garden to enter the 4-H Training Center where 4-H projects are displayed.
The antique tractor parade (Friday), the firefighter's parade (Saturday), the classic car show (Sunday), and Beer and Bands (Friday and Saturday) are all returning to the Niagara County Fair.
On the main stage Friday night, 90 West will perform with Scott Celani opening. Cock Robin will perform on the main stage Saturday night. New this year is a karaoke contest on Wednesday and Thursday.
Voting on the CCE photo contest celebrating Niagara County agriculture will also take place at the fair with the winners being announced during the closing ceremonies on Sunday.
Another good meal deal is the annual chicken barbecue on Thursday, July 31. CCE will start selling the chicken dinners at noon until sold out. The price of $9 includes half a chicken, barbecued with Cornell's famous sauce, as well as corn on the cob, coleslaw, choice of beverage, and a dinner roll.
According to CCE organizers, when you visit the Niagara County Fair, you are supporting the families, children, farmers and communities of Niagara County. Net proceeds from the fair support CCE-Niagara County programming that benefits children and families of Niagara County.
Ross points out that agriculture still is the No. 1 industry in Niagara County, followed by tourism at No. 2. He is a staunch supporter of CCE. While some other counties have over the years cut back on their local CCE financial support, "we at the Niagara County Legislature naturally support them with a good stipend every year. For a rural county, you have to have a strong cooperative extension," Ross said.
For more information on the Niagara County Fair and CCE of Niagara County, visit the CCE Facebook page, or its website at www.cceniagaracounty.org.