Companies get down to business at Erie County Fair

August 15, 2014 Updated Aug 15, 2014 at 9:42 AM EDT

By Elizabeth Carey

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August 15, 2014 Updated Aug 15, 2014 at 9:42 AM EDT

The final weekend of the Erie County Fair is here and area companies are getting down to business.

You can buy just about anything at the fair: a shed, a tractor, furniture - you name it. Even Retro Buffalo t-shirts that bring fond memories to Western New Yorkers are up for grabs.

The shirts are a big hit since they feature designs from well known, but long gone Buffalo businesses from restaurants to steel plants.

Joe Kontrabecki, founder of Retro Buffalo, says area residents can relate to most of them. "People did grow up going to Ground Round with their families. People did meet their husbands and wives at Your Host. Uncles, fathers, aunts and grandparents did work at Bethlehem Steel," he said. "So yes, there's a little something for everyone and it's gone over really well."

He says Kelly Tough, Bethlehem Steel and Hills department store shirts are most popular right now.

One fairgoer ordered a shirt that reads, "I still call it Rich Stadium." Kontrabecki actually makes them onsite, after customers choose their size, design and color.

Retro Buffalo sets up at most festivals in Western New York, but Kontrabecki says the Erie County Fair stands out. "I really try to maximize time spent in good weather and during festival season in particular," he said. "What I think is good about the Fair is that it pulls people in from all over. People schedule their vacations to come home and go to the Fair so I can reach a much larger demographic."

Other vendors like Mark Andol from Made in America agree. He has a large, 6,000 square foot store, set up right on the fairgrounds where everything is 100 percent Made in the USA.

"With the Erie County Fair, you get people from all over, Syracuse, Ohio, Pennsylvania, that's what we love," Andol said. "They believe in what we're doing and it works very well for us."

Some of the top sellers at Made in America's Fair store range from candy and signs to shoes and t-shirts, where every single part is Made in the USA.

Andol has been taking part in the Erie County Fair for 24 years through his manufacturing business, General Welding and Fabricating, which has a 7,000 square foot display.

Besides the midway and the food, Andol says it's obvious fairgoers do want to buy things. "It's a win win," he said.

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