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Image courtesy of the Erie County Fair
Image courtesy of the Erie County Fair

Fun(ner) Summer continues: Strates Shows midway returns to Erie County Fair


Mon, Jul 31st 2023 07:00 am

Celebrates 99-year partnership

The James E. Strates Shows will again head to the Erie County Fair this August, commemorating 100 years in business and a “Centennial of Smiles.” Strates Shows will bring over 70 rides, games and attractions to complete the mile-long midway in Hamburg.

A press release noted, “2023 also marks the 99th year of a historic relationship between the Erie County Agricultural Society (host of the Erie County Fair) and the James E. Strates Shows. This partnership is a historical milestone in the modern amusement industry as it is considered the longest continuous run of any carnival midway in the United States.”

Erie County Fair Special Offers & Events

√ Strates Shows is offering weekday one-price ride days at for $35 per wristband. Fairgoers can avoid the lines and purchase wristbands in advance online at www.ECFair.org or in-person at Strates booths. Wristbands are not shareable. 

√ Strates Shows is also offering “Fun Cards,” which can be reloaded and shared. They are available online in advance at www.ECFair.org for $50 for 120 credits, or in-person at Strates booths. 

√ On Friday, Aug. 18, Jimmy Strates of the James E. Strates Shows will provide a historical talk for fairgoers to enjoy at the Heritage Building at 6:15 p.m.

‘Top 10 Rides’

The following is the Erie County Fair’s rundown of the “Top 10 Rides” experienced by fairgoers during the 2022 event – returning to the midway this August. The ranking is based on individual wristband and “Fun Card” ticket scans.

Per the Erie County Fair organizers:

•Giant Wheel: Truly the “King of the Midway!” At 105 feet in height, Strates Shows majestic Giant Wheel dominates the fairgrounds and the surrounding community. A spectacular sight day or night, the Giant Wheel comes alive when the sun goes down with a spectacular display of LED lighting. It is the best ride to take an awesome selfie with friends, as you’ll have a one-of-a-kind view behind you! From the top, check out unmatched views of downtown Buffalo and nearby Lake Erie! (Riders must be 48 inches tall, minimum, unless accompanied by an adult). 

•Wave Swinger: This ornately decorated giant swing set takes riders flying above the carnival crowds below. Riders are seated in one of the ride’s many suspended basket seats. As the Wave Swinger starts up, the whole structure rises and begins to rotate clockwise. When it reaches its maximum height, the ride tilted to provide an added thrill! (42 inches minimum, 230 pounds maximum) 

•Musik Express: Music, lights and sounds – get ready for spinning action as the up-and-down motion of the ride keeps you rocking and rolling. (52 inches minimum and age 8; 78 inches maximum) 

•Pirate: Ahoy, mateys! Welcome aboard the biggest ship on the midway. But look out, as there are rough seas head! This is not a kiddy cruise, but a trilling experience for mature family members. The ride’s up and down, swinging pendulum movement will provide plenty of zero-gravity thrills at the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions. (48 inches minimum; 39 to 48 inches may ride with an adult on an inside seat) 

•Venetian Double Carousel: For over three decades, Strates Shows signature merry-go-round has been a memory-maker for fairgoers of all ages. This unique, two-story, hand-painted carousel is a timeless favorite on the midway and has become one of the “first” midway rides ever enjoyed by thousands of children and their parents. (42 inches minimum, unless accompanied by an adult) 

•Sky Flyer: High-altitude fun! Newly refurbished for 2022, this 98-foot-high vertical swing can be seen “dancing in the sky” above the Strates Shows carnival. As 24 riders slowly rise to the top, the tower begins to rotate and centrifugal force kicks in! The Sky Flyer offers adventure thrills as well as a panoramic view of the midway. Fairgoers on the ground will be sure to have their cameras out to capture the Sky Flyers’ dazzling array of LED lighting. (48 inches minimum, 79 inches maximum) 

•The Claw: Experience the ultimate sensation of speed, rotation and swing on one ride! As its large arm lifts into the air, those daring enough to ride from one of its suspended seats will get a 360-degree view of the surroundings ... but only if they can keep their eyes open! (48 inches minimum, 77 inches or 220 pounds maximum) 

•Scooter/Bumper Cars: Driver’s licenses not required! There is no way better to get your traffic jam frustrations out than a ride on this carnival classic. These bumper cars let riders travel over the floor while bumping, dodging, and crashing along the way. (48 inches minimum to drive, or 42 inches minimum to ride) 

•The Wacky Worm: The perfect “first coaster” for young riders, this colorful caterpillar will have all ages laughing with delight as it weaves its way along gentle slopes and a winding track. (42 inches minimum, or 36 to 42 inches may ride with an adult) 

•Dream Wheel: Enjoy a panoramic view of the midway from 72 feet above the ground while riding in a family-sized gondola. At night, the Dream Wheel’s translucent tubs absorb the multiple colors of the super spectacular LED lighting. (40 inches minimum; 40-56 inches must be accompanied by a responsible patron) 

A complete list of the nearly 50 rides coming to the midway (including height requirements) is now available online at www.ECFair.org. Riders are determined by height, not age. 

The ride list is subject to change without notice. 

More 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, and sponsors of the Erie County Fair. Its mission is to preserve and enhance, by educational endeavors, the agricultural and historical legacy of New York state.

This year’s Erie County Fair will be held Aug. 9-20. Visit www.ECFair.org

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