By HOWARD BALABAN email@example.com
Medina Journal-Register — KNOWLESVILLE — By the time the Orleans County 4-H Fair ended Saturday, officials said attendance was on the “high average” side of things. Perhaps that is because of the Orleans County 4-H reputation, and how well it draws in fairgoers from outside the county.
One family, visiting from Genesee County, said the Orleans County location made it better than their home county’s.
“There’s more space and some higher quality barns here for the animals,” said Eric Towne, who was walking through one of the fair barns with his wife, Alissa, and their five children.
“We came here today because the kids are at an age where they can start showing animals, and we want them to look around and decide what they want to show,” Towne said. “Our oldest boy right now thinks he wants to show beef cattle, and our oldest girl wants to show goats.”
Another family walking around was Bryon Hoffman, who stopped by with his two sons. Hoffman, a Newfane resident, said Saturday’s visit to Knowlesville was his family’s first time at the Orleans County 4-H Fair.
“This one seems like is has a lot more things to offer,” he said. “There are more exhibits, and there is more here for the kids to do.”
Hoffman pointed to the Fair’s Midway, and the variety of rides and food, as examples of what he considered “better” in Orleans County. He said he has attend the Niagara County Fair for many years, but the Orleans County Fair made such a positive first impression that “I would definitely bring the boys back again.”
While visitors came from outside the county, so did 4-Hers. Claudia, 14, and A.J. Drechsel, 10, both of Elba, showed chickens and sheep. Some of their chickens went in Saturday’s market auction.
Their father, Andy, said he and his family enjoy coming to the Orleans County 4-H Fair to “see all the different breeds of chickens.”
He explained the size of the fairgrounds in Orleans County allow its fair to showcase such a wide variety of not only different breeds, but also rare and uncommon breeds. “That helps make this fair unique,” he said.
The Drechsels have attended the Genesee and Wyoming County Fairs before, but Andy said the larger 4-H association in Orleans County, and its available facilities, help it stand out.
Meanwhile, on the Midway, people from as far as California played games and rode amusement rides, including a mechanical bull (courtesy of a separate vendor). The Ward family of Churchville was in town to visit family locally. Amy and Alan Ward watched daughter Jaida try out the bull, and said the Orleans County 4-H Fair offers a true feeling of a country fair. Also, Alan, a Medina native, said he came to the Fair in his youth and wanted his children to share in the experience.
Fair Chairman Richard Batt said he and other Fair officials strive to offer “a typical example of the kind of fair people imagine when they picture an American fair.” In doing so, he said every effort is made to make sure patrons get the best value they can when visiting the Fair, and that the community is supported throughout the week.
“Perhaps one of the most unique, but not see aspects of our fair is the support we get from the 4-Hers and the 4-H family,” Batt explained. “We’re a youth fair, and there aren’t many left.”
Batt said the youths team up with volunteers to run different 4-H stands and barns during the week.
“It’s all volunteer run, and the children contribute so much excitement and enthusiasm,” Batt said.
Another interesting aspect of the Orleans County 4-H Fair is the weather, which Batt said cooperated for much of the week. With the exception of a couple hours late Tuesday and late Saturday, the rain stayed away.
“Everyone says we’re known for having at least one day with a drenching rain, and we lucked out this year because we didn’t have that day,” Batt said.