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The impact of not having the Erie County Fair this year

Posted at 6:19 PM, Aug 11, 2020

HAMBURG, N.Y. (WKBW) — It's August in Hamburg and this year is unlike any other. For only the second time in its 180-year history, there will be no Erie County Fair.

"Gosh, it's strange, it's really strange," said Jessica Underberg, CEO of the Fairgrounds.

The grounds are quiet and empty this year. They would typically be full of vendors and rides preparing for fair-goers. Wednesday August 12 would be opening day.

"You run into your friends you haven't seen since high school, you see all the people that are happy coming back and eating cotton candy...it's pretty sad," said Aaron Braun of Blasdell, who's gone to the fair every year.

The fair brings tens of thousands of people to Hamburg for the rides, the entertainment and of course the food. Nearby Pegasus Restaurant is already feeling the blow.

"[The] fair is good for us. It's busy in morning before they go in, at night after they get out and during the day," said Themis Koutsandreas, owner.

Between the initial impact of COVID-19 and the fair being postponed, 50% of their business is gone. It's difficult for would be vendors and for who work the fair as well.

"We feel it too, we feel your pain. A friend of mine described it as like grief. Missing out on opportunity for revenue, keeping businesses afloat, having fun," said Underberg.

To keep spirits high and summer fun, there will be a food drive and fireworks drive-in on August 15 called Blast Out Hunger.

"In 2019, a record 52,968 lbs of food items was donated by the community. Since the 2020 Erie County Fair will not be happening, and with the current state of increased need, we decided to partner once again with FeedMore WNY by combining a food drive with the time-honored tradition of fireworks at the Fairgrounds,” said Underberg.

They'll also host the Youth in Ag Bonanza this month. And while we'll all miss the 12 best days of summer, many are already looking forward to next year.

"Everybody just stay positive and there's always next year, but for now, do what you gotta do," said Braun.

Those with 12-day passes have until September 1 to get a refund.