Thoughts of the Erie County Fair instantly bring to mind exciting rides, loud and colorful exhibits, games, food, and fast-moving activity. Yet, each year, visitors drop to a slower pace while viewing the many exhibits at the Conservation Building.
The reasons are many. Live fish, birds and animals fascinate viewers, with or without an exhibitor on hand. Groups, clubs, associations and the Erie County Federation of Sportsmens Clubs offer a variety of unusual and public-service exhibits which present a quiet kind of excitement. Department of Environmental Conservation officers, biologists and technicians arrive each year with information on everything from moose herds in upstate New York to Lyme disease updates.
Even casual viewers walk through this building at a pleased yet pensive pace.
One cause for the slow movements is the live raptors (birds of prey) Carol Spann of Attica keeps on hand. Spann, a wildlife rehabilitator with Tri-County Wildlife Rehabilitation and Rescue, Inc., brings a variety of birds each visit. She will be at a booth in the Conservation Building from 3 p.m. until closing on Aug. 9, 10 and 14. Kids Day is Aug. 14.
Spann teaches a course in wildlife rehabilitation at Genesee Community College. While at the Erie County Fair, and later at the Wyoming County Fair, she may exhibit a live crow, American kestrel or either of two red tail hawks.
"We're an educational unit, going into schools, field days, library summer programs and anywhere interested groups gather," Spann said.
Her presence at last year's fairs drew rings of spectators.
Deer Search, a group of highly trained deer recovery people, features its dogs more than its manpower. Deer Search dog handlers will give exhibits Aug. 9, 10, 16 and 17. With each presentation, viewers marvel at the various sizes and species of dogs used in successfully searching for deer.
Perhaps the most discussed wild animal in Western New York lately has been the coyote. Blamed for the disappearance of everything from cottontail rabbits to house pets, and seen in increasing numbers each hunting season, the coyote has developed both legends and lies. Kevin Kishel of East Aurora, nationally known expert, can offer some factual insights when he appears at the Trappers' Booth from 7 to 10 p.m. on Aug. 13.
As no small coincidence, the theme for the trappers' booth this year focuses on this animal, with many good photos and at least one mount of an eastern coyote.
Bill McAllister has developed a wide reputation as a premier nuisance trapper. He will be at the trappers' booth at various times of the day on Aug. 7, 11, 13, 14 and 17. Among other topics, he has some interesting information on raccoon incursions in suburban back yards.
Pat Blasik has ways to draw and keep kids interested in wildlife information. Her fur identification for older kids and coloring projects for smaller ones keep kids focused on the fun while they learn about the realities of outdoor/wild creatures.
Standing displays, and attending club members, show the good things done for fish and wildlife concerns. The positive and worthwhile activities of trout, wild turkey, walleye, bass and other hunting and shooting clubs keep viewers coming back with questions and comments for other viewers.
The Erie County Fair has something for everyone, but be sure to take a few extra minutes to look over the live and lively visuals all free and open to the public at the Conservation Building.