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Drive your tractor, put on a gown, it's Fair Queen Pageant time

By Joanne Beck
Genesee County fair queen contest
Liza Baker razzle-dazzles with flashy pompoms during the talent portion of the Genesee County Fair queen pageant Sunday in Batavia. 
Photo by Howard Owens.

When a dozen girls aged 6 to 17 talked about agriculture and farming Sunday, followed by quickly changing out of their dresses and heels and into colorful dance outfits, it was clear it was time for the 2023 fair queen pageant at Genesee fairgrounds.

Competitors in varying age categories reviewed facts about beets, showed off their rabbits, read essays about the importance of agriculture and how it has affected their lives and the community, performed jazz, ballet, acrobatics, read a story, led a cheer, and some -- like Katherine Ewert of Batavia -- took a chance for the first time. 

“I guess I really just wanted to do it this year, I kind of just felt like it. I saw the ad, and it seemed like a good idea. And I mostly just wanted to put my experience with agriculture to use, and the fair, and how much it's impacted me. And I wanted to maybe inspire some people to start being more involved in 4-H and the fair in general, so that way, agriculture can grow even more,” the 17-year-old said, sharing what she’s learned from working with horses in 4-H. “I’d say it's taught me a lot about hard work and what's really important in life and just how to be a good person and how to inspire change in others.” 

Contestants with a full range of essays, talents and personalities took to the stage over the course of two hours in front of an enthusiastic audience. The yellow and white striped entertainment tent was filled with spectators during this first day of a two-round competition. 

Girls first demonstrated their speaking abilities, followed by the talent portion, which was a more lively, musical part of the event on yet another very warm day at the fair. The aroma of nearby kettle corn blew into the tent area with occasional compassionate breezes as audience members clapped and cheered for their favorite queen contenders. 

Ewert said that she wasn’t so taken with the title of queen — “it doesn’t mean a ton to me” — as what it would mean to achieve it.

“But it's nice to accomplish something if I do win I mean, I know Panorea, she's an amazing contestant. And if she won, she deserves it,” Ewert said. “But I guess it just means that I touched somebody with the most features and that I inspired someone. I think I would want some little girl who was like me to walk away and be like, I want to do that. I want to be involved in the community and be involved with agriculture.”

This is the second time in the pageant for Panorea Tsoukalos, 16. She has what she referred to as her family “farm” at home, a menagerie of dogs and cats. Suffice it to say she loves animals, though she’s not in 4-H. 

The Batavia contestant also chose to share about agriculture in Genesee County, and her talent was dancing. Perhaps a bit shy at first, being up on stage is helping with that, she said.

“I feel like I get more confidence just talking in front of people,” she said. 

Eleanor “Ellie” Hudson, 9, was one of the few contestants paper free on stage. She began earlier this month to memorize her essay and recited it without the use of notes. Wearing a turquoise and white checked dress and glittery silver Maryjanes, Ellie is not shy about her goals and pursuits in the ag business.

“I said to my mom when I grow up, I want goats,” she said. “We have 11 to 12 goats, and I will name every single one of them for you. My favorite one is Lovey, she had a 7 percent chance of living. We kept her in my mom’s room.”

Ellie is kind of like a speech machine, she seems to know exactly what she wants to say, and she just keeps talking in matter-of-fact form. A resident of Alabama, her precociousness and charm has not gone unnoticed, earning her a spot on regional TV twice so far, she said.

Still, she had a tinge of uncertainty heading up to the stage, she said.

"I was a little nervous. But once I started doing it, I was feeling great,” she said, heading for the restroom to change into her jazz costume. “My nana was giving me a hug.”

Monday is the finale, after introductions and bios of each contestant and questions from the judges and the pageant host. It’s likely to be a tough choice for queen in the end, given the line-up of girls, Pageant Director Verginia Zocco said.

“Because this year for some reason, the girls have gone above and beyond. I don't know if you were listening to some of the speeches, but we got like, information on history this year. We got information on local farms this year. How actually the Genesee County Fair impacts their lives. It has just been stunning this year,” Zocco said. “It seems like girls are really giving 110 percent to the pageant. I don't know what it is. But it must really be just taking shape, I guess. Like, I don't know how to explain it. But it's just, like this year, I saw during the fair girls up on stage practicing for their talent yesterday before the pageant even started. Everyone has just been really serious about it. And I think taking pride in it.

“You know, it's been amazing this year. And I wonder if it's because we have more girls, that they're talking to each other, getting ideas from each other, making more friendships with each other,” she said. “Because last year, we only had like seven girls; this year, we’re up to 12. And it was really cool because one of the girls actually pulled the tractor, put on her dress, and she was running over to the pageant. Yeah. So girl, I'm like, ‘you're my kind of princess,’ pull your tractor and then you put on a gown.”

The fair queen pageant and crowning runs from 6 to 9 p.m. on Monday in the entertainment tent.

Genesee County fair queen contest
Katherine Ewert
Photo by Howard Owens.
Genesee County fair queen contest
Gabriella Zocco
Photo by Howard Owens.
Genesee County fair queen contest
Panorea Tsoukalos
Photo by Howard Owens.
Genesee County fair queen contest
Kali Martino
Photo by Howard Owens.
Genesee County fair queen contest
Zoe Castro
Photo by Howard Owens.

Sponsored Post: Monday at the Genesee County Fair; Veteran’s Day

By Lisa Ace
Genesee County Fair Header

Monday July 24 – Veteran’s Day

  • 10 AM – Exhibition Halls & Buildings Open
  • 4 PM— 9 PM—MIDWAY OPEN
    6 PM – 9 PM Fair Queen Pageant and Crowning (Entertainment Tent)
  • 10 PM – Exhibit Halls & Buildings Close

Daily at the Fair:

  • Air Sculpture (Balloon Display Build All Day Every Day and Balloon Demonstrations 12pm & 4:45pm) (All Day Every Day)
  • Pig Racing – Show Schedule (SAT 4pm, 6pm & 8pm; SUN 4pm, 6pm & 8pm; MON 4pm, 6pm & 8pm; TUES 4pm, 6pm & 8pm; WED 2pm, 4pm, 6pm & 8pm; THURS 4pm, 6pm & 8pm; FRI 2pm, 4pm, 6pm & 8pm; SAT 2pm, 4pm, 6pm & 8pm)
  • Niagara Down Under (All Day Every Day)
  • Wings on Wheels (All Day Every Day)
  • Pony Rides (All Day Every Day)
  • Chain Saw Carver (All Day Every Day)
  • Fame Racing – Radio Controlled Car Racing (SAT 3pm, 5pm & 7pm; SUN 3pm, 5pm & 7pm; MON 3pm, 5pm & 7pm; TUES 3pm, 5pm & 7pm; WED 1pm, 3pm, 5pm & 7pm; THURS 3pm, 5pm & 7pm; FRI 1pm, 3pm, 5pm & 7pm; SAT 1pm, 3pm, 5pm & 7pm)
  • CLICK HERE FOR 4-H Daily Schedule  

Events & times on the schedule and this website are subject to change. Follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with changes. Click here to see each day's schedule.

Video: A J Affronti lead guitarist for Knight Patrol tries out Harley Benton BigTone

By Howard B. Owens
Remote video URL

A. J. Affronti, lead guitarist for Knight Patrol, tries out Harley Benton BigTone White Trem guitar at the Genesee County Fair.

The guitar is a featured contest prize from The Batavian at the Genesee County Fair. The guitar contest is open to kids 17 and under. Visit our booth in the Exhibit Hall on the fairgrounds, and while at the booth, draw an eagle on an entry form.  The winner will be randomly selected from among staff-favorite drawings.  The winner will need to be able to attend the Eaglez Tribute Band concert on Thursday evening.

The other big prize from The Batavian at the fair is a $100 gift certificate from Red Osier Landmark Restaurant.  Same rules apply, except you can arrange to pick up the gift certificate any time before the last day of the fair.

The best 20 drawings from the two age groups will be selected for a "people's choice" award, with voting at The Batavian's booth on Thursday and Friday. The prize is a harmonica.

Knight Patrol is playing at the fair tonight (Sunday) in the Entertainment Tent.

Photos: Car Wash by Batavia Notre-Dame hockey, fundraising for tournaments

By Steve Ognibene
Members of BND Hockey team fundraiser today behind Notre-Dame High School until 2 p.m.
Members of BND Hockey team fundraiser today behind Notre-Dame High School until 2 p.m.

The Batavia Notre-Dame Hockey team is having a drive-thru car wash today behind Notre Dame High School parking lot, 206 Richmond Avenue until 2 p.m. to help fundraise for upcoming hockey tournaments.

Members of BND Hockey team fundraiser today behind Notre-Dame High School until 2 p.m.
Members of BND Hockey team fundraiser today behind Notre-Dame High School until 2 p.m.

Opening day one of the best in years for GC Fair, longtime volunteer says

By Joanne Beck
rose and balloon lady at genesee county fair
Janice Spagnola, the "balloon lady," left, and Rose Topolski, one of the chief Ag Society volunteer leaders, take a quick break from working Saturday while at Spagnola's exhibitor's booth during opening day at Genesee County Fair. 
Photo by Howard Owens.

Day One of the fair at Genesee County Fairgrounds was in its last hour Saturday evening as volunteer Rose Topolski made her rounds scooting around on a golf cart and checking on various people and things as BB Dang played on into a gradually dimming sky. 

Although the multi-pronged event can get tense at times, Topolski joked around with balloon lady Janice Spagnola, who had been blowing up pastel blue balloons for Sunday's class. She will be teaching balloon sculpture twice a day at noon and 4:45 p.m. in the Exhibition Building all week. 

“I taught her. Janice was my student in Alexander Central School, in seventh grade,” Topolski said. 

As Topolski spoke, Spagnola made up years that were earlier than when her teacher was actually at Alexander. That seems to be a trend amongst Topolski’s friends and peers — her fellow Ag Society members recently said that she’s been around for each of the fair’s 183 years.

It’s a camaraderie that seems to work, and Topolski gives as good as she gets. However, The Batavian isn’t at liberty to repeat her favorite responses. There was her one-liner about “before the first supper, we had a picnic,” she said. 

No matter her years, it has meant oodles of experience, and Topolski shared that Saturday was a darned good one for the history books.

“It’s the best opening day we’ve had, probably since I’ve been here,” she said. “I know that we had over $8,000 at the gate, and that doesn’t include anybody who has a pass, which there’s a number of people that have passes, and everybody who has animals back there has a pass, all of my vendors have passes. It’s just when you add that to it, it just is an insurmountable number of people that are in here today.”

“And I actually snuck out to go to a graduation party … (and someone told her) there are very few people at Blondies because they're here at the fair; they are pretty excited because, you know, the free events at the fair is a pretty good draw, and the fact that you can load your car up 16 deep, and for $10. Actually, they have to be belted in order to come in that vehicle. But to come in and just enjoy all the free opportunities, and they are very inexpensive.”

All of the 4-H and related animal activities are free, including:

  • The open class poultry show at 9 a.m., the open class rabbit show at 10 a.m., the stockyard classic beef show at noon and the empire classic sheep show at 2 p.m. Sunday;
  • The 4-H alumni master showman contest at 7 p.m. Wednesday;
  • The market animal auction sale at 6:30 p.m. Thursday;
  • A 4-H Family and Consumer Science Club activity at 11 a.m. Friday; and
  • NIOGA Dairy showmanship show at 8:30, 10 and 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
Dan Embt and family selfies
Lori Embt and Dan Embt of Pavilion take photos of Theo Embt, 1 1/2, Nicole Calmes of Le Roy, and Melanie Calmes, 3, during Saturday's opening day of the Genesee County Fair in Batavia. 
Photo by Joanne Beck.

Dan Embt of Pavilion and his family “just came to see the fair” in general. They stopped at an exhibitor booth, Hirsch’s Dairy Farm of Alexander, and posed for some selfies at the painted scene of 4-H kids with cut-out heads for visitors to insert their own faces for a candid shot. 

“We used to be in 4-H,” Embt said, recalling what it was like during fair week. “We used to live here practically.”

Photos: BB Dang at the Genesee County Fair

By Howard B. Owens
bb dang genesee county fair

BB Dang kicked off the 2023 live music lineup of the Genesee County Fair on Saturday with a set heavy on hits and tight musicianship in front of a packed entertainment tent.

BB Dang is:

  • Isabella Barbagallo, vocals
  • Reid Burton, vocals and guitar
  • Alex Sherwood, guitar
  • Mike Valle, drums
  • Abby Johnson, keyboards and vocals

Cameron Carlson, a Byron-Bergen graduate, performed his last show with the band before heading off to college.

The rest of the week's lineup:

  • Sunday at 7 p.m., Knight Patrol
  • Thursday at 7 p.m., the Eaglez Tribute Band
  • Friday at 7:30 p.m., Audibull
  • Saturday at 7 p.m., BarnStorm

See previously: The Eaglez highlights GC Fair's five nights of live music that spans genres and eras

Photos by Howard Owens

bb dang genesee county fair
bb dang genesee county fair
bb dang genesee county fair
bb dang genesee county fair
bb dang genesee county fair
bb dang genesee county fair

Sponsored Post: Sunday at The Genesee County Fair; Senior Citizen Day

By Lisa Ace
Genesee County Fair

Sunday, July 23rd – SENIOR CITIZEN DAY

  •  9 AM—Open Class Poultry Show—(Merton Building)
  • 10 AM—Open Class Rabbit Show—(Merton Building)
  • 10 AM—WNY Garden Pullers Tractor Pulls (Grandstands)
  • 10 AM – Exhibition Halls & Buildings Open
  • NOON – Stockyard Classic Beef Show & Open Beef Show (Main Show Ring)
  • 1 PM – 9 PM—MIDWAY OPEN
  • 2:00 PM Empire Classic Sheep Show
  • 3 PM To 5 Pm Fair Queen Pageant Speech & Talent (Entertainment Tent)
  • 7PM to 10 PM Knight Patrol – (Entertainment Tent)
  • 10 PM – Exhibit Halls & Buildings Close

Daily at the Fair:

  • Air Sculpture (Balloon Display Build All Day Every Day and Balloon Demonstrations 12pm & 4:45pm) (All Day Every Day)
  • Pig Racing – Show Schedule (SAT 4pm, 6pm & 8pm; SUN 4pm, 6pm & 8pm; MON 4pm, 6pm & 8pm; TUES 4pm, 6pm & 8pm; WED 2pm, 4pm, 6pm & 8pm; THURS 4pm, 6pm & 8pm; FRI 2pm, 4pm, 6pm & 8pm; SAT 2pm, 4pm, 6pm & 8pm)
  • Niagara Down Under (All Day Every Day)
  • Wings on Wheels (All Day Every Day)
  • Pony Rides (All Day Every Day)
  • Chain Saw Carver (All Day Every Day)
  • Fame Racing – Radio Controlled Car Racing (SAT 3pm, 5pm & 7pm; SUN 3pm, 5pm & 7pm; MON 3pm, 5pm & 7pm; TUES 3pm, 5pm & 7pm; WED 1pm, 3pm, 5pm & 7pm; THURS 3pm, 5pm & 7pm; FRI 1pm, 3pm, 5pm & 7pm; SAT 1pm, 3pm, 5pm & 7pm)
  • CLICK HERE FOR 4-H Daily Schedule  

Events & times on the schedule and this website are subject to change. Follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with changes. Click here to see each day's schedule.

Photos: The Bluesways Band fills Jackson Square for a Friday night concert

By Howard B. Owens
Remote video URL

It was a full house in Jackson Square for the Business Improvement District's weekly Friday night concert, this time featuring The Bluesway Band.

For one song, Guitarist Steve Kruppner played a Harley Benton BigTone White Trem that is a featured prize in a drawing contest at the Genesee County Fair this week sponsored by The Batavian (see video above).

The Bluesway Band is:

  • Chas DelPlato, keyboards, vocal 
  • Anthony DelPlato, guitar/vocals 
  • Brad Kujawski, bass/vocals 
  • Pete Metzler, drums/vocals 
  • Steve Kruppner, guitar/vocals
  • Special guest for Friday night: Frank Minuto, Congas/percussion

Photos by Howard Owens.

the bluesway band jackson square 2023
the bluesway band jackson square 2023
the bluesway band jackson square 2023
the bluesway band jackson square 2023
the bluesway band jackson square 2023
the bluesway band jackson square 2023

Organizers work all day, night to prepare for GC Fair kick-off

By Joanne Beck
Norm Pimm and Amanda Gallo
Doing the final prep work on Friday for the 183rd Genesee County Fair are Norm Pimm and Amanda Gallo, Genesee County Ag Society treasurer and president, respectively, seen here inside the Exhibition Building at the fairgrounds in Batavia. The fair opens at 9 a.m. Saturday.
Photo by Joanne Beck.

There may have been a steady flow of vehicles into the fairgrounds Friday, and while that didn’t mark the beginning of Genesee County’s annual event just yet, it was a sign of the traditional prep and move-in by vendors, exhibitors, volunteers and lead organizers from the Genesee County Ag Society.

Norm Pimm and Amanda Gallo, the Society’s treasurer and president, respectively, were busy driving around in one of the golf carts, assigned to the task of answering questions, helping to set things up, directing fair participants, and checking folks in, while Rose Topolski manned the fair office as the head go-to, per the note on the office door. 

When asked how late of a night he and others will have in setting up Friday, Pimm sort of shook his head and shared how he answered that question from someone else.

“A lot of us, actually, probably a dozen of us, have a camper here. So I just took a phone call from another vendor wanting to know when I'm going to be here,” Pimm said. “I said, I'll be here until next week Sunday, so a week. I'll be here for the next nine days. And he's like, okay. Yes, we don't really leave. We'll be up very late tonight/early in the morning, still preparing.”

While he and Gallo were parked inside the Exhibition Building, others busily unloaded their tables and goods at their designated areas to get set up for the next morning. Genesee County’s 183rd Fair officially opens at 9 a.m. Saturday on East Main Street Road, Batavia. 

“Tomorrow is Kids Day,” Gallo said, reminding folks that a third day has been added this year so that for a $15 wristband, kids can enjoy the Midway from 1 to 5 p.m. this Saturday, July 26 and again on July 29. “And then the small fry tractor pull will be tomorrow.  I think a lot of people don't realize that Genesee County does have a fair,” she said.

Friday was more than just a prep day, as the grounds hosted 11 six-horse hitch teams in the evening for a spectacular show of strength and muster from draft horses in the North American six-horse hitch classic series competition. Classified as workhorses, these equines are typically up to about 17 hands high and weigh 1,400 pounds or more. In case you missed them, the teams will return for a show at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in the horse arena. 

Pimm believes it’s the second largest six-horse hitch show in New York State, largely due to the fair’s growing reputation — it drew a record 75,000 people last year. 

Speaking of reputation, the fair queen contest is making a comeback after numbers dipped during the pandemic, Gallo said. There are a dozen worthy contestants this year, and the first round of competition is from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, followed by the pageant and crowning from  6 to 9 p.m. Monday, both in the entertainment tent. 

If you’re a bit dazed by the entertainment and activity choices, check out the schedule and update online at fair-schedule

And then check it out in person, Pimm said.

“Come on out and support it and see it. I mean, for $10 for a carload, you can get as many people you can pack into the car you bring, and you're not going to beat it for the price. And there's a lot of, some new vendors, some new entertainment, here every single day. Plus a lot of entertainment that has been here in the past,” Pimm said. “We just have a lot for kids to do, whether it's the midway, whether it’s, you know, the livestock exhibits, those little kids sections. And then it's family-friendly.”

Mona Doyon of ABC
Mona Doyon of All Babies Cherished setting up her booth at the fair.
Photo by Joanne Beck.

Along with food, midway and animal vendors — the kangaroos were already set up in their section — were the exhibitors of businesses and nonprofits inside the Exhibition Building. Mona Doyon, program coordinator for All Babies Cherished, was decorating her table tucked into a corner for the agency’s second year at the fair.

“It’s a great outreach. You get to meet the community, and it brings in people, and one of the ladies that we got to meet last year, she worked with Fidelis Insurance. Now she comes into our center, and she helps our clients. She comes in once a week. So it was just a great outreach. And so we wanted to come back,” Doyon said. “And we are promoting, we're going to be opening a temporary housing for women and children. And we're doing a beef raffle. So we want to promote that and just get more awareness of what we do in the community to help women and children.”

“We have the house, and we're working on it. So it's planned by the end of the year or the first of the year 2024. Please do stop on by, come see us. It's a great program.”

She will have information to share with people about the agency’s services, which is why so many organizations set up booths at the fair. So far this year she saw sheep and signs for maple syrup products that she may buy later this week, and last year did some shopping.

“So I know last year I got soap and candles,” she said. “So it's a great thing, and it's great to see, you know, Batavia and Genesee County is thriving. We’ve got to bring more into this area.”

Team from Wyoming wins Six-Horse Hitch Classic Series competition at fairgrounds

By Joanne Beck
six hitch horse competition at Genesee County Fair
The winner of the 2023 North American 6 Horse Hitch Classic Series at the Genesee County Fairgrounds on Friday, a pre-fair event, was Red Oaks Farm from Kahnawake, Quebec, Canada. The team was driven by Bud Miller.
Photo by Howard Owens.

The Genesee County Fair hosted the 2023 North American Six-Horse Hitch Classic Series Competition, featuring 11 teams from across the country. The series was a preview treat at the fairgrounds, and another show is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the horse arena.

Also see: Organizers work all day, night to prepare for GC Fair kick-off

six hitch horse competition at Genesee County Fair
The six-hitch team from Red Oaks Farm takes a victory lap in the horse arena at the Genesee County Fairgrounds.
Photo by Howard Owens.
six hitch horse competition at Genesee County Fair
Driver Bud Miller from Red Oak Farm in Kahnawake, Quebec, Canada.
Photo by Howard Owens
six hitch horse competition at Genesee County Fair
Second Place, Jackson Fork Ranch, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, driving by Ross Honsberger.
Photo by Howard Owens.
six hitch horse competition at Genesee County Fair
Ross Honsberger, driver of the second-place team, was joined for a ride around the arena by Chelsea Lippert, a fair volunteer.
Photo by Howard Owens.
six hitch horse competition at Genesee County Fair
The third-place team was from Livonia, Stoney Hill Farm, driven by Kyle Picaro.
Photo by Howard Owens.
six hitch horse competition at Genesee County Fair
Photo by Howard Owens.
six hitch horse competition at Genesee County Fair
Photo by Howard Owens.

Sponsored Post: Saturday at The Genesee County Fair; Drive your tractor to the fair & kids day

By Lisa Ace
Genesee County Fair

Saturday, July 22nd – DRIVE YOUR TRACTOR TO THE FAIR DAY/ Kids Day—Fair Opens @ 9 am

  • 8:00 AM Stockyard Classic Sheep Showmanship, Breeding Sheep Show & Market Lamb Show
  • 11:00 AM Hog Showmanship Show #2 Breeding Gilt & Market Hog
  • 12:00 PM Stockyard Classic Goat Showmanship, Breeding Doe And Market Goat Show
  • 4:00 PM Sheep Showmanship Show #2, Breeding Sheep & Market Lamb
  • 8:30 AM - Open Halter Draft Show (Horse Arena)
  • 10 AM – Exhibition Halls & Buildings Open
  • 12:00 PM - 4 PM  Faith at the Fair   (Entertainment Tent)
  • 12:30 PM—Open Class 6 Horse Hitch Classic  (Horse Arena)
  • 1 PM – 10 PM—Midway Opens,  Kids 16 & Under Ride for $15/wristband from 1 PM—5PM
  • 5 PM – 10 PM – Midway Open @ Regular Rates
  • 7 to 10PM—BB Dang (Entertainment Tent)
  • 10 PM – Exhibit Halls & Buildings Close
     

Daily at the Fair:

  • Air Sculpture (Balloon Display Build All Day Every Day and Balloon Demonstrations 12pm & 4:45pm) (All Day Every Day)
  • Pig Racing – Show Schedule (SAT 4pm, 6pm & 8pm; SUN 4pm, 6pm & 8pm; MON 4pm, 6pm & 8pm; TUES 4pm, 6pm & 8pm; WED 2pm, 4pm, 6pm & 8pm; THURS 4pm, 6pm & 8pm; FRI 2pm, 4pm, 6pm & 8pm; SAT 2pm, 4pm, 6pm & 8pm)
  • Niagara Down Under (All Day Every Day)
  • Wings on Wheels (All Day Every Day)
  • Pony Rides (All Day Every Day)
  • Chain Saw Carver (All Day Every Day)
  • Fame Racing – Radio Controlled Car Racing (SAT 3pm, 5pm & 7pm; SUN 3pm, 5pm & 7pm; MON 3pm, 5pm & 7pm; TUES 3pm, 5pm & 7pm; WED 1pm, 3pm, 5pm & 7pm; THURS 3pm, 5pm & 7pm; FRI 1pm, 3pm, 5pm & 7pm; SAT 1pm, 3pm, 5pm & 7pm)
  • CLICK HERE FOR 4-H Daily Schedule  

Events & times on the schedule and this website are subject to change. Follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with changes.

Click here to see each day's schedule.

Byron-Bergen Teacher Joins Great Lakes Research Voyage

By Press Release
spence_lakeguardian.jpg
Participants on Lake Guardian research voyage.
Pete Spence is 5th from right.

Press Release:

On July 6, Byron-Bergen Secondary Science Teacher Pete Spence boarded the U.S. EPA Lake Guardian for a seven-day voyage to conduct research on Lake Ontario. Spence was one of 15 participating teachers taking part in the annual expedition which collected data in several locations looking at algae, zooplankton, and benthic organisms.

“I was interested in doing research on the Great Lakes, so I applied and was accepted,” said Spence. He requested and was assigned to the team examining differences in zooplankton populations from the east to the west end of the lake. “We also used acoustic (sonar) techniques to locate migratory shrimp species that stay on the bottom of the lake during the day and move toward the surface at night.”

Spence also assisted in research teams collecting blue-green algae levels at depths up to 40 meters and quagga mussel populations from 60 to 120 meters deep. The Lake Guardian docked in Youngstown and the participants toured the Niagara Falls gorge, an experience which many of the out-of-state teachers had never had. They then set out to collect a series of samples starting from the Welland Canal and crossing the lake to Toronto.

During one memorable experiment, the crew submerged Styrofoam cups in one of the deepest parts of Lake Ontario to observe how pressure impacts volume. The water pressure compressed them to approximately half of their original size. “I plan to have my students write their names on Styrofoam cups which I will send to the EPA for this experiment,” said Spence. “After they have been submerged in Lake Superior and returned to us, the students can measure the changes.”

Seven days after setting out on Lake Ontario, the crew disembarked at Port Rochester on July 12. “One of the things that I’m bringing back to Byron-Bergen is using the Great Lakes in my Environmental AP class,” said Spence. “The Great Lakes have always been of interest to me, being that we live so near them, I think it’s a great opportunity for students to see the bigger picture.”

spence_maps.jpg
Spence examines map with researchers
spence_collectingsamples.jpg
Spence and colleagues collect samples, Pete Spence is on right.
spence_teacherparticipants.jpg
Lake Guardian research participants, Pete Spence is back right 

United Way hosts summer serenade with Genesee Symphony Orchestra

By Press Release
gsorehearsaug132018.jpg
File photo from 2018 of Summer Serenade rehearsal.

Press Release:

United Way of Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes will once again present, Summer Serenade, featuring the Genesee Symphony Orchestra.

The Serenade will take place on Saturday, September 9, at Terry Hills Golf Course and Banquet Facility, beginning at 5 p.m. The event will feature hearty hors d’oeuvres, a concert by the Genesee Symphony Orchestra, and desserts. A cash bar will be available. 

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Genesee Symphony Orchestra and United Way’s Backpack Program in Genesee County.

United Way’s Backpack Program provides easy-to-make meals for school-aged children in need throughout Genesee County. Currently, the program is supplying over 700 monthly meals to children throughout four school districts.

The Genesee Symphony Orchestra is a dynamic, regional orchestra that presents an ambitious portfolio of concerts for the enrichment of our community through high-quality performances, educational opportunities, guest artists, and partnerships.

Tickets for the Serenade are $50 and can be purchased through any Genesee Symphony Orchestra Board Member, Lawley Insurance in Batavia, or online at unitedwayrocflx.org/summerserenade.

The Batavian's guitar contest inspired by the area's community of music artists, today's opportunities for young musicians

By Joanne Beck
Remote video URL

It was as if we arranged the tribute band The Eaglez to perform at Genesee County Fair during The Batavian’s debut, along with WBTA, for the first-time official Media Center at the Fair this coming week.

Along with the Media Center’s booth, The Batavian is sponsoring an eagle drawing contest, with the first prize being Harley Benton BigTone Trem guitar for some lucky artist aged 17 or under. The guitar for the winning eagle drawing (randomly selected from among staff favorites) will be presented during The Eaglez concert on Thursday (July 27) night!

This will now be the third such guitar giveaway sponsored by The  Batavian, and it might seem like a completely incongruous thing for an online media company to do, right? A news site giving away a musical instrument? Shouldn't we give away a typewriter or a camera?

Well, first, let’s explain the eagle-drawing contest.

An eagle is the primary essence of The Batavian’s logo, borrowed from the Upton Monument, which sits at the intersection of routes 5 and 63 in downtown Batavia. Publisher Howard Owens wanted to capture that symbol along with the name of this city he now holds dear after setting down roots more than 15 years ago.

“The Upton Monument is our community's most important and significant landmark, and the eagle that sits atop of it represents independence and courage, two characteristics of good news organizations,” Owens said.  "When planning our new logo, the eagle seems a natural way to represent our commitment to the community and to fearless and honest journalism."

The guitar contests are something Owens said he wanted to do to give back to the community to promote an appreciation for the magic and beauty of music among its youth.

Owens has been a music fan from his most formative years growing up in California, listening to The Beatles, the Beach Boys, and Elvis. He had musical ambitions early on, but his parents couldn't afford the investment in music lessons and instruments, and by the time he did get a cheap, almost unplayable guitar, there was nobody in his family or neighborhood to help him develop his skills.  

"The world of music is so different today than when I was young -- there are guitars available that play and sound great, stay in tune, and are well made that are affordable," Owens said. "The online resources for players of all skill levels, from the first-day beginner to the advanced player, just didn't exist for most of my life. I get excited when I think about the musical opportunities available to kids today, and I want to help point them in the right direction."

No, not everyone is going to be a rock star, Owens admits, but he is aware of how many local musicians there are who have humbly started out on a family keyboard, a hand-me-down guitar or a used set of drums, who continue to gig today, or have found other avenues for careers and secondary incomes in music, or just continue to play for their own enjoyment.

“Batavia, Genesee County, the GLOW region is bursting with musical talent," Owens said. "I'm inspired by so many people, from Bill McDonald and Justin Williams to Tom Ryan, Daniel King, Ray Williams, Steve Kruppner, Dylan DeSmit, Michael Murray, Alex Feig, and the whole Del Plato family, among so many others, that I want to see that local musical tradition continue. Paul Draper shared with The Batavian recently how his musical career began with an inexpensive keyboard, and he's become one of the region's top gigging performers. It's great to see so much talent in our community, and I think we, as a community, can develop more young talent."

For the first two contests, The Batavian set up a booth for a one-day event and gave away an acoustic guitar and a knockoff of a Fender Telecaster.  Since the fair is a bigger, multiday event, Owens said he wanted to find a guitar that would really grab people's attention and get kids excited about the possibility of winning a quality musical instrument.  He figured an archtop guitar would fit the bill, and was excited when he found the Harley Benton BigTone Trem in white.

The guitar, he explained, is patterned after a Gretsch White Falcon, which among guitar enthusiasts is an iconic instrument. A new White Falcon costs thousands of dollars.  The Harley Benton guitar is a fraction of the cost, and Harley Benton is considered one of the world's best budget-line guitar companies.

Steve Kruppner, an accomplished solo performer and guitarist for The Bluesway Band, played it on Wednesday and said he's impressed by it (see video above).

"This is extremely well built," Kruppner said during his test drive of the guitar. "Like I said, I learned guitar on what was probably an Italian-made copy of a Fender Strat. It was just a complete piece of junk. It was unplayable.  The strings were this far off the neck and they wouldn't tune. But this guitar is really sweet. I wouldn't mind having one myself just to have at home right now."

Kruppner admired the tuners, neck, solid build of the guitar, its Bigsby-style tremolo, white finish, gold trim and clean sound of the pickups.  The guitar is both a great lead instrument and a great strummer, like an acoustic guitar, he said.

"I tell you what, if I was 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 years old and I got this guitar, I'd be thrilled," Kruppner said. "This is a far better guitar than what I learned on, I can tell you."

To enter the contest, visit the Genesee County Fair, go to the Exhibit Hall, find the Official Genesee County Fair Media Center, where both The Batavian and WBTA will be set up with booths, and ask for an entry form.  While at the booth, draw your best version of an eagle (entries must be drawn at the booth or nearby). The Batavian staff will select their favorite drawings to be entered into a random drawing.  To enter, you must agree to return to the fair on Thursday night for the Eaglez concert (a free pass will be provided to the winner's family) where you will receive the guitar on stage during the concert.

For adults, there is also an eagle drawing contest, and the prize is a $100 gift certificate from the original Red Osier Landmark Restaurant. The winner will be asked to return to the fair at an agreed-upon appointment time for a promotional photo and to receive the gift certificate.

The People's Choice award is a harmonica.  The Batavian staff will pick its 20 favorite drawings from all the entries, and visitors to the Media Center on Thursday and Friday will vote for their favorite of the 20 selected. The winner will be asked to return to the fair on Saturday for a photo-op and to receive the harmonica.

Steve Kruppner and The Bluesways Band perform at 7 p.m. on Friday in Jackson Square as part of the Business Improvement District's weekly concert series.

Sponsored Post: The Genesee County Fair begins today

By Lisa Ace
Genesee County Fair 23, header

Friday, July 21st—North American 6 Horse Hitch Classic Series.  ($5 carload entry Friday, 7/22 only)

  • 11 AM—Draft Horse Hitch Show (Horse Arena) 
Unicorn, Ladies Cart & North American Classic Youth Cart
  • 3:00 PM Stockyard Classic Hog Showmanship, Breeding Gilt & Market Hog
  • 4:30 PM—Draft Farm Team Show (Horse Arena)
  • 5:30 PM—North American 6 Horse Hitch Classic Class  (Horse Arena)

Daily at the Fair:

  • Air Sculpture (Balloon Display Build, All Day Every Day and Balloon Demonstrations 12pm & 4:45pm) (All Day Every Day)
  • Pig Racing – Show Schedule (SAT 4pm, 6pm & 8pm; SUN 4pm, 6pm & 8pm; MON 4pm, 6pm & 8pm; TUES 4pm, 6pm & 8pm; WED 2pm, 4pm, 6pm & 8pm; THURS 4pm, 6pm & 8pm; FRI 2pm, 4pm, 6pm & 8pm; SAT 2pm, 4pm, 6pm & 8pm)
  • Niagara Down Under (All Day Every Day)
  • Wings on Wheels (All Day Every Day)
  • Pony Rides (All Day Every Day)
  • Chain Saw Carver (All Day Every Day)
  • Fame Racing – Radio Controlled Car Racing (SAT 3pm, 5pm & 7pm; SUN 3pm, 5pm & 7pm; MON 3pm, 5pm & 7pm; TUES 3pm, 5pm & 7pm; WED 1pm, 3pm, 5pm & 7pm; THURS 3pm, 5pm & 7pm; FRI 1pm, 3pm, 5pm & 7pm; SAT 1pm, 3pm, 5pm & 7pm)
  • CLICK HERE FOR 4-H Daily Schedule  

Events & times on the schedule and this website are subject to change. Follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with changes. Click here to see each day's schedule.

Millie Tomidy-Pepper announces retirement from YWCA

By Press Release

Press Release:

image-7-20-23-at-9.54-pm.jpg
Submitted photo of 
Millie Tomidy-Pepper

The YWCA of Genesee County Board of Directors is announcing that Executive Director, Millie Tomidy-Pepper will be retiring from her position on Sept. 30. Board of Directors President Christi Waldron says the board has formed a search committee and is actively working towards finding Millie’s successor to facilitate a smooth leadership transition.

Waldron says, “For over five years, Millie has truly embodied the mission of the YWCA of Genesee County. She works diligently alongside staff and board members to ensure our programs reach as many community members as possible. It will be extremely difficult to say goodbye, but the board and I are dedicated to finding the right person to fill her shoes.”

“Millie’s integrity is unquestioned and apparent. It is because of her integrity that the YWCA is respected by both our community/funding partners and by our contributors. She sets the example for board members and staff alike,” says former board treasurer, Linda Rost.

“I have always been passionate about the mission of the YWCA and the work we do, so the decision to move on has been an extremely difficult one. However, I leave knowing that the agency is fiscally strong with excellent programming, dedicated staff, and a board of directors that will continue to move the agency forward. We have worked diligently alongside a very supportive community, and I know that will continue. It has truly been an honor and privilege to lead this historical agency and I am very proud of all that we have accomplished together,” said Millie Tomidy-Pepper.

Millie was hired as Executive Director of the YWCA of Genesee County in 2018. She quickly realized that organizational restructuring was needed to ensure the future of the YWCA and the programs and services it offers to the community.

She brought on all new board members, and together they embarked on a strategic assessment of the organization, which included evaluating programmatic impact and fiscal sustainability.

Building ownership was also evaluated and eventually, a decision was made to sell the YWCA building to Three Little Birds Pediatric Office, a woman-owned business, operated by Dr. Emily Fraser-Branche. The YWCA was able to remain in the building it called home for over 50 years by renting office space from Fraser-Branche. It has been a win-win for all involved!

Simultaneously, Millie focused on the internal infrastructure. A Grant Manager was hired and when additional grant funding was secured, new office computers and replacing the 25-year-old server was top on the list. The main office, domestic violence (DV) offices, and common areas were renovated to be welcoming to clients and customers. 

The extremely popular, “My Sister’s Closet” boutique that provides affordable women’s clothing to DV survivors and the community was relocated within the building and renovated to make a more enjoyable shopping experience for all.

Human Resource Services, Technical Support and Accounting Consulting Services were added to support agency operations. A Bilingual DV Outreach Coordinator position and a Safe House Case Manager position were added to complement the Domestic Violence Program and services we offer. 

The Safe House, which houses survivors of Domestic Violence was renovated initially through a partnership with the Rotary Club of Batavia and thereafter through grant funding and community support. The house provides safety and comfort to families fleeing domestic abuse.

Critical to the mission of the YWCA, under Millie’s tenure, multiple social justice initiatives and programs took place. The YWCA was the host agency for the first Juneteenth Celebration in Batavia, organized by Just Kings, the YWCA hosted yearly Stand Against Racism events, participated in the March for Our Lives event, and hosted “White Fragility”, a workshop to address systemic racism.

Millie also assisted in organizing the first Women’s March in Genesee County, revived a yearly award for local women, renaming the event, “Women of Inspiration”, and honored our founding mothers on the 110-year Anniversary of the YWCA with a Gala Celebration.

Through all this, there was a pandemic and the YWCA’s Domestic Violence Program was critical for the safety of victims during this unprecedented time. Under Millie’s leadership, services continued to be delivered uninterrupted and staff (essential workers) found innovative ways to reach out to individuals in need throughout the pandemic. 

“The staff and community have been critical to the mission of the YWCA and the services we provide. We could not do what we do without them,” says Waldron.

The Board of Directors is currently seeking candidates for the Executive Director Position. Candidates should possess strong fundraising and financial management skills, have the ability to build strong partnerships both internally and externally, and most importantly; live the YWCA mission of eliminating racism, empowering women, and promote peace, justice, and dignity for all. 

Qualified candidates can submit their cover letter, resume, and three professional references to Board President, Christi Waldron, at YWBoardPresident@gmail.com for priority consideration by Monday, August 7. To view the job description, please visit ywcagenesee.org.

Sponsored Post: The Batavian's Guitar-Giveaway Contest at the Genesee County Fair

By Lisa Ace
the Batavian guitar contest

CONTEST RULES:

  • All eagles must be drawn at The Batavian’s booth during the fair.
  • All entry forms must be complete and signed by a parent/guardian if under 17.
  • Those entering for the guitar must be able to return for the prize during The Eaglez concert at 7 p.m. July 27 for a presentation/photo opportunity.
  • All prizes will be presented along with a photo for promotional purposes.
  • Winning entries will be randomly selected from among staff favorites, except for People’s Choice, will be selected by fair attendees from among the Top 20 staff favorites.
  • No purchase necessary to win.

The 17 and under winner of the guitar will be contacted via phone by noon on Thursday, July 27. The winner does not have to be present to win during the actual drawing but MUST be able to come back for The Eaglez concert that evening on Thursday, July 27 at 7 p.m. to accept the guitar prize. There will be a photo opportunity on stage with The Eaglez, and the winning recipient for promotional (marketing and media) purposes for The Batavian.  You will receive a complimentary entry to return to the fair for that day. 

All entries must be drawn at The Batavian’s booth. All entries will be reviewed by The Batavian staff, and the winning drawing will be randomly selected from among the top favorites.  Criteria include quality and creativity.

The winner of People’s Choice harmonica will be notified via phone and/or email on Friday, July 28. All entries must be drawn at The Batavian’s booth by the end of the day on Wednesday, July 26. Top 20 staff favorites will be on display Thursday and Friday. The winner will be chosen by voting of fair attendees and announced on Friday, July 28, with prize presentation and a photo taken on Saturday, July 29 at the fair. 

The winner of 18 and older Red Osier gift certificate will be notified via phone and/or email on Thursday, July, 27. Criteria and selection are the same as the 17 and under prize. The winner will receive the gift certificate and have a photo taken by Saturday, July 29. To win, you must agree to come back to the fair to receive the gift certificate and have your photo taken for publication in The Batavian.

No purchase necessary to win. This contest has been made possible with special thanks to The Batavian for sponsoring the guitar and harmonica prizes and to The Red Osier Landmark Restaurant for the gift certificate.

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