Fairgoers should take a good look around at the barns and facilities at the Erie County Fair this week.
Once the fair ends, on Sunday, three livestock barns, including the popular Ag-Sperience Barn, will be dismantled to make way for the new Agriculture Discovery Center.
"They are going away. It's kind of a nostalgic feeling around here these days. A lot of people had a connection to those buildings," said assistant Fair manager Jessica Underberg.
"But we'll take pieces and parts of the buildings and reuse them and make some awards for the following years."
She says the new center will be impressive. The $8 million project calls for a 60,000 square foot agriculture center with 20,000 square feet dedicated to agriculture education. Underberg says the Ag-Sperience will be bigger and better next year.
"One of the things we want to continue is the hands-on theme. That's what makes Ag-Sperience so popular now and we'll highlight technological advances," she said. "For example, we're going to bring a robot that shows how robots are milking cows less than 10 miles from the fairgrounds."
Underberg says the project will also feature a grain bin theater, along with a combine that kids can actually climb inside to see how farm equipment works. She says the design focuses on both exhibitor and animal comfort.
The new Discovery Center will be used year round, not just during the Fair, to educate area children about the importance of agriculture. That includes a farm to table program with free field trips for schools and community groups. "Anyone who is willing to listen to the story of agriculture, we're willing to tell," Underberg said.
The modern upgrades should debut in time for the Erie County Fair's 175th anniversary next summer. "