Heritage & History Center; Erie County Fair, Hamburg, New York


A Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper Approach to Museum Design

August 2016
April 2016

Located inside the Fair’s 1885 Octagon Building, the Heritage & History Center opened during the 177th Fair to chronicle over 195 years of agriculture, food, competition and excitement that have come to symbolize the Erie County Fair to generations of Western New Yorkers. Exhibits were curated to showcase the inspiring traditions that have laid the foundation for the present-day Fair as well as reflect the progression of change in our society.

Featured exhibit devoted to the 90 year relationship between the James E. Strates Shows and the Erie County Fair
Concept, Design & Layout
Marty Biniasz

Graphic Design
Michele Meissner, Authentic Buffalo

Panel/Frame System & Signs
VSP Graphic Marketing Group
Custom Display Cabinetry
ECAS staff

Southtowns AV 

Core Exhibits

Primary themes of the Fair were communicated through the use of a frame and panel system designed by VSP Marketing of West Seneca. Graphics for these 4 by 8 panels were completed by Michele Meissner. Meissner is the former Director of the Toy Town Museum in East Aurora, New York. Research, layout and narrative was provided by Marty Biniasz.

Pioneer Fairs – Founded in 1819, First Fair in 1820; Re-establishment of the Agricultural Society in 1841. Display was designed to reconnect the Fair to the City of Buffalo.

The Traveling Fair & Finding A Permanent Home – Highlighted locations of the Erie County Fair prior to 1868 and how the Fair ended up in in Hamburg.

Fairgrounds – Using a 1955 map, visitors learned about the Fair’s historic structures, both past and present, and now the grounds have evolved over the past 149 years.   

Feeding the Fair – The legend of the birth of the hamburger was explained; from pizza to fried gummies, how Fair food has influenced Western New York.

Agriculture & Competition Heritage – Bigger, Better & the Best! It’s the primary mission of the Agricultural Society. Images and panels were also dedicated to 4-H, FFA and Women’s Department (Creative Arts) activities.

Midway & Strates History – The most exciting place at the Fair. Panels celebrated the 92+ year history with James E. Strates Shows.

Firefighters & Veterans Days – As a community we gather at the Erie County Fair annually to honor those served this country, who died for our freedom and for those who time and time again put their lives in danger to keep us safe.

Growing the Fair – Modern transportation to the fairgrounds in the 1890s and the use of electronic media after 1950 assisted the transformation of a traditional, agriculturally based fair into the largest independent county fair and exposition in the United States.