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Image courtesy of the Erie County Agricultural Society
Image courtesy of the Erie County Agricultural Society

Erie County Fair & James E. Strates Shows commemorate 100-year partnership


Mon, Apr 29th 2024 12:15 pm

100 days until Erie County Fair

Press Release 

Today marks 100 days until the 2024 Erie County Fair!

This year, the Erie County Fair and James E. Strates Shows celebrate their 100-year partnership. This exclusive partnership is a historic milestone in the modern amusement industry as it is considered the longest continuous run of any one carnival midway and any one fair in the U.S.

The relationship between the two organizations began Dec. 16, 1923, when James E. Strates sent a letter to the Erie County Agricultural Society soliciting the Erie County Fair’s business. The two-page letter was the start of this special 100-year relationship providing high-quality family entertainment to fairgoers in Western New York.

On Aug. 25, 1924, Southern Tier Shows (now known as James E. Strates Shows) began providing the midway and carnival to the Erie County Fair. Today, Strates Shows remains a family-run business in its fourth generation. Strates Shows provides over 100 rides, games and vendors on the midway each August during the “Best 12 Days of Summer” in Hamburg.

“We hear the stories and see the photos. So many community members have a beloved connection with Strates Shows,” CEO and Fair Manager Jessica Underberg said. “This anniversary is not just a historic milestone in the industry, but we hope fairgoers can share in the nostalgia and special memories from the midway over the last 100 years.”

Third generation show owner James E. Strates said, “The bonds that have developed over the past 100 years with Hamburg and Western New York are more than just a business relationship. The Strates family considers the Erie County Fair, its leadership and fairgoers, part of our extended family. We look forward to celebrating our 100-year partnership by continuing to make memories that last generations.” 

To commemorate the special milestone and historic event, the Erie County Fair and Strates Shows have partnered to celebrate in numerous ways, including:

•Commemorative emblem – To kick off the anniversary, the organizations have released a commemorative emblem designed by Erie County Fair Graphic Designer Becca Lickfeld. The emblem captures the essence of the Strates Shows midway, complete with intricate details reminiscent of a classical carousel.

•Wooden nickel – The organizations have partnered to release a limited supply of wooden nickels. The nickel is good for one complimentary carousel ride on the Strates Shows midway at the 2024 Erie County Fair. These souvenirs will be distributed at community events leading up to the event. Most recently, Western New Yorkers may have seen Fair Bear strolling down Delaware Avenue at the St. Patrick’s Day parade or the 1949 Fair Mobile driving around the Dyngus Day parade. Erie County Fair representatives will attend additional community events with the wooden nickels this summer, including Buffalo Bisons games, the Village of Hamburg sesquicentennial, and the Town of Aurora Independence Day parade, to name a few. 

•Advance sale – Plan ahead and save! Throughout July, Strates Shows will offer discounted ride pricing. Weekday one-price ride-day wristbands (ride all day for one price) will be sold for $35. (Ride wristbands are valid weekdays and cannot be shared.) “Fun cards” will be sold for $50 for 120 ride credits. (“Fun cards” are valid any day of the week and can be shared and reloaded.) These discounted prices will be available exclusively at www.ECFair.org in July. 

•“Share Your Fair” ride discount day – Strates Shows will offer an all-new ride discount day this year. On Aug. 15, ride wristbands will be offered at two wristbands for $50 (including fees), which is over $20 in savings! This pricing will only be available Aug. 15 at www.ECFair.org and at Strates Shows ticket booths. The wristbands are only valid to be used that day.

•100 winners for 100 years – Over the next four months, the Erie County Fair will run social media contests – many geared around the Strates Shows midway – in which 100 winners will be selected to receive free giveaways to be used at the 2024 Erie County Fair. Giveaways may include gate admission tickets, ride vouchers, and meal vouchers.

Additional celebrations to commemorate the anniversary will be announced leading up to the 2024 Erie County Fair. Fairgoers are encouraged to follow the Erie County Fair and Strates Shows on social media for additional announcements, throwback photos, and social media contests. 

The Erie County Agricultural Society produces the Erie County Fair. It is a private, not-for-profit membership organization established in 1819. The ECAS mission is to preserve and enhance, by educational endeavors, the agricultural and historical legacy of New York state.

The 184th Erie County Fair will be held Aug. 7-18. Visit www.ECFair.org.

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