Erie County Fair organizers are planning to build a $6 million, state-of-the-art agricultural learning center on the Hamburg fairgrounds.
Assistant Fair Director Jessica Underberg said the 60,000-square-foot Agricultural Discovery Center would include space for agriculture education, livestock and equine stalls and a theater. The announcement came at the Erie County Agricultural Society’s annual meeting Wednesday at the Event Center on the fairgrounds.
The building will be constructed where the Ag-Sperience barn and two adjacent barns are now located. The plans are to start demolishing the existing barns immediately after next year’s fair so the new building will be ready for the 2014 event, which will be the 175th Erie County Fair.
“No matter when we do it, we’ve only got 11 months to do it,” said Dennis R. Lang, fair director and chief executive officer.
Lang said the cost is expected to be “in the neighborhood” of $6 million.
“We’ve been able to do this basically courtesy of the Hamburg Casino,” he said.
The Agricultural Society is the nonprofit corporation that owns the fairgrounds property, which includes the fair, Buffalo Trotting Association and Hamburg Casino.
Directors heard the treasurer’s report at the annual meeting, and Ellsworth Gaskill, general manager of the casino, said gaming revenues were up 10.8 percent over last year.
Last year also saw the restoration of the Firemen’s Building, renovation of the grandstand, repair of several barns and all blacktop sealed and striped.
The fair also plans to remove the Lottery Building, the Chiavetta’s chicken barbecue building and bathrooms near the Firemen’s Building to add green space and widen the food court area next year.
Also planned, Lang said, is a new restroom to be built near Gate 4. There will also be several restroom trailers added for the fair, and a new first aid building will be constructed in Hickory Tree Park, he added.
Next year’s fair will take place Aug. 7-18, and the theme is, “Erie County Fair: Experience it.” Directors are planning a nightly laser light show.