Out of the Past: Erie County Fair Wrap up, 100 years ago

       By Steve Cichon
       steve@buffalostories.com
       @stevebuffalo

From the pages of the Hamburg Sun, following the fair in 1918, the county Board of Supervisors evaluated the Erie County Agricultural Society and its annual fair.

Erie County Fair ad, as appeared in The Hamburg Sun, 1876.

One hundred years ago, no other county in New York State had greater farm property value than Erie County, but there was a lament that the attitudes of those in the city didn’t match the agricultural output outside of Buffalo.

“Recent world events,” the report states, in reference to World War I, “have given everyone a new conception of his duty to his country, and not the least of these is the development along agricultural lines. That cannot be done… unless there be unity of purpose and co-operation between the rural and city populations.

“In the past the average city man has not sensed his full responsibility toward agriculture, and a great campaign of education and of instruction is necessary to progress agricultural affairs,” wrote Frank A. Dorn, the Hamburg real estate and insurance man who was also the Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors as well as a director of the Erie County Agricultural Society.

In 1918, the fairgrounds were valued at $60,000. About $8,000 in prizes were awarded for the top animals, agricultural products, and farming implements. More than 30,000 people paid to enter the fair in 1918, and there were as many as 3,000 cars parked on the grounds at any given time.

It was hoped that the report spelling out the numbers, showing Erie County’s leadership in farm value and the importance of “making Erie County preeminent in agricultural matters in the state” would help the fair grow in participation and in stature in the community at large.

“Friends on all sides,” was written in The Sun, “will be particularly pleased to note that the (county government is) paying the county fair its special attention. Given the right encouragement it can be made to rival the state fair.”

Last year, the Erie County Fair beat out the New York State Fair by about 30,000 attendees— 1.19 million to 1.16 million. The difference was the exact number of people who the Erie County Fair in 1918.

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon writes about Buffalo’s pop culture history. His stories of Buffalo's past have appeared more than 1600 times in The Buffalo News. He's a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. Since the earliest days of the internet, Cichon's been creating content celebrating the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The 25-year veteran of Buffalo radio and television has written five books and curates The Buffalo Stories Archives-- hundreds of thousands of books, images, and audio/visual media which tell the stories of who we are in Western New York.