Made in WNY Success Story

February 3, 2014 Updated Feb 3, 2014 at 8:38 AM EDT

By Elizabeth Carey

February 3, 2014 Updated Feb 3, 2014 at 8:38 AM EDT

Made in WNY Success Story

WNY Native Lends Disney Expertise to Erie County Fair

Elizabeth Carey

There aren't many people who can say they rub elbows with Mickey Mouse on a daily basis, but Bryan Wittman is one of the few who do so. He's the vice president of global special events for Disney Parks and Resorts.

That means he's responsible for creative development, production, marketing projects and more at Disney Theme Parks and Resorts, around the world.

Wittman's soaring career in the entertainment industry stems from humble beginnings at the fair back in 1975. "My first job was at the fair," he said. "I went to the fair and said, 'I want to be in entertainment and I'll do anything, but please let me get a start."

That start in his hometown of Hamburg led Wittman to executive positions with Darien Lake, the Marriott Corporation, Six Flags Theme Parks, the Ice Capades and more, until landing with Disney 28 years ago.

This summer, his soaring career will come full circle. The Erie County Agricultural Society has named Wittman the Honorary Chairman of the 175th Erie County Fair. Some executives in his shoes might frown on a petty offer, but Wittman is embracing it. "I am so honored to be back and be part of the Erie County Fair," he said. "You can go do things, anything in the world, and it's exciting and fun. But to come back to your hometown where it all started, and I still live here, this is my home today, this is my fair, it just makes it so much more special."

As he puts it, they're going to "shake it up a bit." And, he says, fairgoers, who often take the fair for granted, will notice major changes this summer. "I guarantee the look, the feel of the fair this year will be so different than other fairs," he said. "The last 174 years have kind of been a rehearsal. It's getting ready for the 175th year."

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