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What's new at The Fair: scuba diving, a ketchup robot and daily patriotic ceremony

Horses, cows, rides and food – lots of food.

Those are some of the things we normally associate with a fair. And though the 179th edition of the Erie County Fair will have all of that and more when it returns from Aug. 8 to 19 at the Hamburg Fairgrounds, fairgoers can expect the unexpected, too. You'll be able to scuba dive, meet Molly the Ketchup Robot and even get alerts of cow births between your midway rides and visits to the food stands. Here are a few highlights:

For anyone who wants to try scuba diving but is leery about starting out by diving into the ocean, the new Go Dive Now Pool is for you (and me). This 30-foot, 15,000 gallon pool will be staffed with trained professionals to help you along. You must be 10 or older (ages 10 and 11 must have an adult diving with them). Just bring your swimsuit – all scuba gear (regulators, tanks, wetsuits, masks, fins) will be provided. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 9, 10 and 11 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 12.

Molly the Ketchup Robot is the invention of a team from Hamburg’s Staub Precision Machine which includes brothers Tony and James Staub. James Staub is the Jim in Jim’s French Fries, which is where you’ll find Molly in her Fair debut.

Step right up to 'Molly the Ketchup Robot,' new at the Erie County Fair

More than 300 hours were put into making Molly who was created to help kick off the I-Hub at the Fair, a new exhibit area inside the Showplace Building. The “I” in I-Hub stands for three “I’s”: innovation, imagination and ingenuity. It will have hands-on activities, interactive displays and demonstrations on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) while also highlighting local companies. A hands-on children’s museum also is included.

Aerial artists, jugglers, cycling stars and more will perform for the Erie County Fair debut of Cyrk Live! featuring South Buffalo native John Kennedy Kane as ringmaster. The single-ring event will be under a 40-foot high European-style big top tent made in Italy. It is near Gate 5.

The Fair has added a Flag Retreat Ceremony to its schedule at 6:30 p.m. daily in Slade Park. Each 10-minute ceremony will feature the Pledge of Allegiance and the lowering and folding of an honorary color guard from a local VFW, Amvets or Legion post. It will then be presented to a veteran or active military member as Flag Retreat Honoree of the Day. The Erie County Fair Marching Band will perform the national anthem along with other patriotic music.

The animals

People of all ages can't get enough of animals so here are a few highlights.

Cow birth alerts. That’s right – if you want to know when a cow is in labor at the Fair, just text ILoveCows to 88588.

Little Hands on the Farm. Kid-sized fun on a kid-sized farm where the youngest members of the family will get hands-on experience with farm chores like milking a cow and driving a tractor. The kids will get "cash" for their work to purchase a snack at the Farmer’s Market. Geared toward ages 2 to 10. Open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Commerford Petting Zoo: Kids can pet and feed the animals here, as well as take camel and pony rides.

Nickel City Reptiles and Exotics with Jeff Musial. The nationally known wildlife educator based in Buffalo, Musial will be on hand with wildlife including the endangered clouded leopard. Located on 42nd Street.

The food

All your favorites will return, especially the deep-fried (fill-in-the-blank) variety. But new items are always fun, so look for a doughnut grilled cheese with bacon from The Big Cheese (glazed doughnut, halved, grilled and filled with cheese and bacon); surf-and-turf pierogi from Babcia’s Pierogi (pierogi with shaved beef, mushrooms, onions and jus, topped with grilled shrimp and Parmesan sauce); the Dirty Bird from Mineo and Sapio (two chicken Italian sausage patties with barbecue glaze, caramelized onions, cheddar cheese and Asian slaw on a grilled ciabatta). For beer lovers, try a Vienna Lager, the 2018 Home Brew winner created by Kevin DiTondo, and the Erie County Fair Beer, American Pale Ale.

Doughnut grilled cheese, Dirty Bird among new Erie County Fair foods






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