The Chautauqua County Fair: A Smorgasbord of Fun

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Article by
Katrina Fuller

Sounds of laughter and music drift through the gates, as crowds of people make their way through the vendors and exhibits. From roller coasters to high flying swings, rides swoosh by as the thrill seekers they bear laugh and shriek in delight. Prizes such as giant stuffed teddy bears and tiny toy dogs are won in tests of skill, from fishing games for the kids to the ever popular ‘I Got It’ tents. Farm animals bray, cluck, and moo from inside their stalls, giving a look into their magnificence for an afternoon. Adults and kids alike can always find something to occupy their time at the Chautauqua County Fair – from live performances and shows to vendors and food carts, the fair is a week full of fun.
Fairs have long been a source of enjoyment for the public, reaching back into medieval times. A gathering of folks showing off their wares, they were popular events filled with people. ‘Fayres’,the archaic title of the beloved events, were long held in strong cities or towns, where the number of attendants could be kept in order by local authority. Often times, a Royal charter was needed to organize these events – keeping the revenues in the Royal coffers.
While it doesn’t possess a Royal Charter, the Chautauqua County Fair has been an area tradition for over 130 years, bringing the joys of exciting rides, fantastic foods, games, and more together in one place. “County Fairs were built around the farmers – the rides and games came well after.” Mike Ferguson, the Director of Marketing and Promotions for the Fair, explains. “The main attraction of our fair is all the 4-H activities – everyone loves to see the animals.” From demolition derbies and tractor pulls to barns full of beautiful animals and a plethora of live shows, the weeklong event offers a good time to any who enter the gates. “We’d love to have everybody come – it’s very affordable.”
July 21st, opening day, sees the arrival of a multitude of events, from a beauty pageant to illusionists and comedy acts. Throughout the week, a variety of exciting shows, exhibits, and more will grace the fair grounds – livestock judging contests, kids tractor pulls, Stray Cat karaoke will al have their place in the spotlight at this magnificent Smorgasbord of fun. This is the second year the Bates Brothers Amusements will be providing the rides for the fair. “Bates Brothers Amusements uses Cummins Engines and Trucklite lights for their rides – another local connection there.” Ferguson says. Merritt Estate Winery will be on site, featuring their Ecstacy and Sangria Selections, as well as a Budweiser Beer Garden for those with a thirst for something stronger.
Looking for a bite to eat? The fair offers a wide selection of favorites to choose from. Funnel cake, Elephant Ears, Italian sausage, cotton candy – the list of goodies is endless. A short walk through the grounds provides a regular buffet of options, from delightful salt water taffy to an actual meal. No patron will leave hungry, that’s for sure!
“Lots of people think it’s just for the folks in Dunkirk, but that’s not true – this is Chautauqua County’s fair,” Ferguson says. “We have displays from folks all over Chautauqua.” The Chautauqua County Fair runs from July 21st to July 27th, 2014. Pre sale tickets at $6 are available at a wide variety of locations, online at their website chautauquacountyfair.org, or at their office. During the fair, the gates open at 9 a.m., with midway rides opening at 1 p.m. The fair is located at 1089 Central Avenue in Dunkirk, NY. Take a trip to the fair, and leave with an experience!