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Weidner's BBQ returning to Erie County Fair after fire destroyed stand last year

Weidner's BBQ will be back at the Erie County Fair this August for its 62nd year, despite a fire that destroyed the barbecue chicken stand at last year's fair.

"We've been here too long not to come back," said Ryan Gerber, son of owners Charles and Mary Gerber.

"Not every fairgrounds can say they have vendors for 62 years," said fair CEO and Manager Jessica Underberg.

Gerber and members of his family and staff Thursday stood on the spot where their new stand will be, next to the Conservation Building on the Avenue of Flags.

"You'll be pretty impressed with our setup," Gerber said.

Fire broke out in the back of the stand at its longtime location in the Kiddieland area behind the grandstand Aug. 19, the second last day of last year's fair. The Kiddieland area was evacuated, and all nearby animals were moved to different pens while the fire was extinguished.

Two large signs that had been blackened with smoke from the fire were propped up in front of the podium at Thursday's news conference announcing the stand's return.

Eden chicken farmer Bert Weidner and his wife, Anne, and his brothers Jerry and Fran set up a small stand at the Erie County Fair in 1956, where they slow-cooked fresh chicken over an open flame, while basting it with their own barbecue sauce. The menu has expanded to include grilled steak and ribs, as well as the "1885 Burger," celebrating the introduction of the hamburger at the fair in 1885.

The early Weidner's stand at the Erie County Fair.

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