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Genesee County Fair

Fair Photos: A sunny opening Saturday

By Staff Writer
GC Fair bounce house
Thiago Vergara, 4, of Batavia, Caico Harjo, 2, of Basom, and Melanie Calmes, 4, of Le Roy, have some fun in a bounce house Saturday afternoon at Genesee County Fair in Batavia.
Photo by Nick Serrata

Hot weather poured into Genesee County fairgrounds as visitors were more intermittent throughout Saturday's opening day. 

Attractions included animal shows -- rabbits, goats, sheep, halter draft horses -- vendor booths, the kids' bounce houses and talent show. The Eaglez tribute band is set to take the stage at 7 p.m. under the yellow entertainment tent.

Everything begins again at 9 a.m. Sunday with an open class poultry show, and several more 4-H animal shows, the bounce houses, a Power Wheels demo at 2 p.m. at the Grandstands, followed by Patriot Garden tractor pulls at 3 p.m.  

The fair queen finale is set for 4 p.m. at the entertainment tent, where Knight Patrol will fill the air with tunes at 7 p.m. 

The Batavian posts a daily schedule of fair activities, and for more details, go HERE.

Photos by Nick Serrata

Genesee County Fair
Genesee County Fair
Genesee County Fair
Genesee County Fair

Second annual eagle-drawing contest has begun at The Batavian booth at Genesee County Fair

By Joanne Beck
Batavian booth at fair 2024
Photo by Nick Serrata

Genesee County Fair has officially rolled into town, and The Batavian staff is waiting to meet you! We're in the Exhibit Hall all day Saturday and this next week with the second annual eagle-drawing contest in full swing. 

Come on over to the fairgrounds on East Main Road, Batavia and draw your best version of an eagle for prizes of a beautiful honey flame Harley Benton SC-Custom II guitar (ages 17 and under), a Red Osier gift card (18 and over) and a ukulele for the People's Choice Award!

Check out all of the animal and other 4-H exhibits, food, music and entertainment going on at the fair. The daily schedule is posted right here on The Batavian, along with photos and stories of the ongoing action. 

Fair queen contestants get down to earth, in the air during first night pageant

By Joanne Beck
genesee county fair queen competition
Corrine Rhoads performing during the talent portion of the Genesee County Fair Queen competition.
Photo by Howard Owens.

It didn’t take long for the action to begin at Genesee County fairgrounds Friday evening, as the six-horse hitch teams made their way to the horse arena and nine young ladies prepared to take the main stage one by one for the first half of the fair queen pageant. 

“Tonight, after the speeches, we are focusing on women’s health,” pageant director Virginia Zocco said before the event began. “There will be a discussion on the importance of eating clean food. We are hosting a demonstration on cheese making, drying fresh herbs, and milling your own flour, presented by Gabriella Zocco and Lyza Baker. Immediately after, the contestants will be performing their lovely talents.”

This is Zocco’s fourth year as pageant director, and she gives the contestants a packet with rules, including that they need to select a topic for their presentations. 

There was a focus on clean eating from the earth this year. Lyza Baker, a Little Miss contestant, and Gabriella Zocco, a contestant for Fair Queen, teamed up, given their mutual interests of love for the earth and a concern for women’s health, said Zocco, who happens to be Gabriella’s mom.

“She loves the pageant; she has done it since 2015. So for her, it was kind of bittersweet tonight because she knows this will be, once you’re queen, you’re kind of aged out,” Zocco said. “But now it's nice to see the other girls come up. The one thing I love about doing the pageant every year is I get to see the girls grow, and I watch them mature and get more confidence, and I watch their love of farming and nature.”

Lyza Jean Baker, 7, is a Little Miss contestant from Basom, where her family raises many animals. She is homeschooled and going into second grade, with this being her third pageant. Lyza is an active 4-H member and will be showing her bunny Ophelia at the fair. Other hobbies are gardening, camping and dance, and this year she is trying out for the Rochester City Ballet performance of The Nutcracker. 

Gabriella Zocco, 17, of Le Roy, attends Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women, where she will be entering her senior year this fall. She maintains a 4.5 grade point average while also being the historian in National Honor Society and a member of the Leadership Distinction Program. Her other activities include founding and acting president of Book Club, co-founder and vice president of Lorax Club, Red Cross Club, Sunshine Club, Merceds Articles, and Mercy Service. She has received awards for her balance of leadership, work, service, academics and clubs, and they include Issues of Morality, U.S. History and Environmental Health, the Rachel Carson Healthy Planet Award from Chatham University and the Youth Leadership Recognition Award. Gabriella is captain of the Mercy Dance Competition Team; she volunteers to care for the earth, animals and people while also enjoying gardening, traveling, and playing the piano and clarinet.

Zocco has volunteered at the fair and was put into the director's position after the last one moved on, she said. 

“She got a different position, and it left a pageant director open, and she knows I'm a teacher, and I have experience working with kids and doing different activities,” she said. “So I took on this role because I love what the Genesee County Fair does for the community, and bringing everybody together and having that shared experience. So I really do love continuing the pageant legacy.”

Friday’s pageant included introductions, speeches, and a talent portion. The topics for the speeches can vary according to what the contestants find interesting and important.

“We’re pretty open to what the girls want. And this year, one of our contestants wanted to give a speech on women’s health and the earth, connecting those two together and the importance of clean eating and tying that into our farmers,” Zocco said. “When I give the girls topics to do on agriculture, it’s really open to interpretation.  So the girls can take it a different way if they’d like to.”

The talent portion featured “a good range of talents,” she said. “It’s a great variety for the community to see. We had dancing, singing, storytelling, acrobatics,” she said. “Sunday we usually get more people, the tent usually overflows when we crown the contestants.”

The second half of the pageant is scheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday at the Main Stage, under the big yellow tent. It is there and then when the final crowning will occur.

Remaining contestants include:

Also vying for Little Miss is Kali Martino, who is also 7 and moving into second grade at Pembroke Primary School. She lives in Batavia with her family with her family and two puppies and has taken dance classes since she was just 2, including acro, ballet, tap, cheer, and hip-hop. Her favorite sports are soccer, swimming, softball and cheerleading, and she’s very active in her church. Kali’s hobbies are trampoline jumping, dance parties with her siblings, swimming, riding her bike, traveling and gardening. Kali wants to be a teacher and a doctor once she grows up because she wants to help children learn and feel better, she says.

Two contestants for the Miss category: 10-year-olds Eleanor Hudson and Carly Hanel. Eleanor lives with her parents and brother in Alabama and is a 4-H Goat Club member, raising Nigerian award dairy goats. She can’t wait until this fall to be in Future Farmers of America at Oakfield-Alabama Central School, she says. She loves to dance and has been dancing for seven years, currently taking jazz, tap, and pre-pointe ballet classes. Ellie, as she’s called, plays soccer, and participates in Run Club, Page Turners, chorus and plays the tenor saxophone in her school’s band. She attends church, loves musicals, and wants to be an agriculture teacher.

Carly lives with her mom and older sister, loves to sing and draw. This is her second year in th pageant, and she enjoys singing karaoke and being part of her school musicals. She also participated in the Kids Club at her school. Her favorite princess is Cinderella, and she hopes to go to Disney Land one day. Elephants are her favorite animal and aqua green her favorite color.

Duchess contestant Isabella Redden, 12, is from East Pembroke, where she lives with her mom, stepdad and family dog, Dozer. She has a love for swimming, crafts, dance — senior across and jazz — French bulldogs, the piano, reading, and public speaking.  Since the age of 5, she has had a desire to contribute to her local fire company and other organizations by helping with activities and events by collecting donations of food, household needs and blankets for the local food pantry. Known as Bella, her future plans are to go into the field of education and musical theater, and she’s waiting to be accepted into the Genesee Community College homeschool accelerated college enrollment program this fall. 

Cassandra Judge, 14, a high honor roll student who just completed eighth grade at Akron Middle School, is a candidate for the Princess category. Her academic diligence earned her the Presidential Gold Award, and she received the Mission Mover Award from the school’s Board of Education for initiating and raising all the funds for inclusion projects in her school. She is a member of student government, concert, jazz and marching bands, chorus, cheerleading, Girl Scouts, and a competitive dancer on the Diamond Dance Team for Batavia Muckdogs.

Grand Princess contestant Sara Keller is 15 and lives with her mom in Darien, attending 10th grade this fall at Alexander Central School. Sara has been a dancer since 2016. She also loves toeing and has been part of her school chorus and the school’s swim team. She participates in church activities, attends youth group, and enjoys traveling — having visited seven countries and 19 states. For several years, she has helped her grandpa raise goats, chickens and pigs on his small farm.

Corrine Rhoads, the second Grand Princess contestant, is 14 and lives in Le Roy with her family, participating in the 4-H programs of Family Consumer Science, Fur and Feather, Dog and Raptor clubs. She likes to play ultimate frisbee and has competed in the state and national championships, spends a lot of tie hanging out with her teammates, and hiking, going to church and writing poetry. She has spent the last four years performing in the circus and enjoys working with her partner in ground acrobatics, the Lyra and recently began the Chinese pole. Corinne plans to continue her education at GCC this fall and would like to pursue a career in criminal justice and psychology.

genesee county fair queen competition
Corrine Rhoads
Photo by Howard Owens
genesee county fair queen competition
Cassandra Judge
Photo by Howard Owens.
genesee county fair queen competition
Sara Keller
Photo by Howard Owens.
genesee county fair queen competition
Kali Martino
Photo by Howard Owens.
genesee county fair queen competition
Lyza Baker
Photo by Howard Owens.
genesee county fair queen competition
Gabriella Zocco, with the assistance of Lyza Baker, gives a talk and demonstration on the importance of clean eating while making cheese.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Sponsored Post: The Genesee County Fair begins today!! Saturday is LOR ROB FARMS DAY

By Sponsored Post
Genesee County Fair

Saturday, July 20th, LOR ROB FARMS DAY (in Memory of Richard Barie)

  • 8 AM – Stockyard Classic Hog Show ( Livestock Arena)
  • 8:30 AM – Open Halter Draft Show (Horse Arena)
  • 9 AM -Empire Classic Youth Sheep Show (Main Show Ring)
  • 10 AM – Exhibition Halls & Buildings Open
  • 11 AM – Stockyard Classic Sheep Show ( Livestock Arena)
  • 12:30 – Genesee County Fair 6 – Horse Hitch Class ( Horse Arena)
  • 12 PM – Genesee County Fair Talent Show (Entertainment Tent)
  • 12 PM – 4-H Rabbit Show (Merton Building)
  • 1PM to 5PM Free Kids Bounce Houses 
  • 2 PM –  Stockyard Classic Goat Show ( Livestock Arena)
  • 5 PM – Empire Classic Youth Sheep Show 
  • 6 PM – 4-H Market Rabbit Show (Merton Building) 
  • 7 PM – Eagles Tribute Band (Entertainment Tent)
  • 10 PM – Exhibit Halls & Buildings Close
     
  • Daily at the Fair:
  • Air Sculpture (Balloon Display and Demonstrations) (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)
  • 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)
  • Fair Trivia Hunt – All Day (July 20th-26th) – Exhibition Building – DAILY PRIZES
    Events & times on the schedule are subject to change. Follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with changes.

Photos: North American 6 Horse Hitch Classic at the Fairgrounds

By Howard B. Owens
North American 6 Horse Hitch Classic

The Genesee County Fair is underway.

Friday's first day featured only a few events, including the North American 6 Horse Hitch Classic.

Check The Batavian daily for the fair schedule and coverage, and also stop by the fair's Media Center to meet the staff of The Batavian and WBTA and enter our contests.

Photos by Kristin Smith.

North American 6 Horse Hitch Classic
North American 6 Horse Hitch Classic
North American 6 Horse Hitch Classic

Sponsored Post: The Genesee County Fair kicks off this weekend. Friday is the North American 6 Horse Hitch Classic Series

By Sponsored Post
Genesee County Fair

Friday, July 19 — North American 6 Horse Hitch Classic Series
($5 carload entry to the fair Friday, 7/19th only)
Gates Open at 2PM

  • 4 PM – Stockyard Classic Hog Show
  • 5:30 PM—North American 6 Horse Hitch Classic (Horse Arena)
  • 6:30 PM – Draft Horse Farm Team Show (Horse Arena) 
  • 6 PM—Fair Queen Pageant (Entertainment Tent)

    Daily at the Fair:
  • Air Sculpture (Balloon Display and Demonstrations) (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)
  • 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)
  • Fair Trivia Hunt – All Day (July 20th-26th) – Exhibition Building – DAILY PRIZES
    Events & times on the schedule are subject to change. Follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with changes.

Ag Society volunteers prepare for their 'Super Bowl' as fair week nears July 19-27

By Joanne Beck
Avantae and vee at talent show
2023 File Photo of a happy Avantae Owens with his mom during the talent show at Genesee County Fair. 
Photo by Joanne Beck

With less than a week to go before Genesee County's largest event comes to roost for eight days, volunteers are mowing grass, whacking weeds, assembling animal pens, cleaning out buildings, preparing the barns, setting up tables and chairs and putting in the time from sunup to sundown until showtime.

It's hardly glamorous, but that's what keeps the annual county fair, driven by Genesee County’s 4-H participants and Agricultural Society volunteers, alive and well—with record numbers the last two years.

“For us volunteers that are putting it on, it never ends. So this is almost like our Super Bowl, right? We get to this very week, and we work a ton of hours. You know, it's a little bit different planning it because you do a lot of planning, like, during the day or at night, or when I'm in my car, I make a lot of phone calls, so you're always doing something every day to plan it," Ag Society Treasurer Norm Pimm said to The Batavian. "But within the week of the fair … we don't leave the fairgrounds. We’re there all week; we're there 24 hours a day for fair days. And it's tiring, because it's so long.

"But we do it, obviously, for the community, to keep growing and keep going so the kids in the community have something to enjoy. Because, I mean, a lot of the county fairs are either cutting back or are no longer in existence, and a lot of carnivals have sort of either died out or gone away," he said. "So we're trying to make sure that we stay there for the long term. Our focus is to keep this thing moving.”

The fair has continued to grow with the number of participants, variety of entertainment, and size of animal entries, Pimm said, and as a result, there’s been a constant increase of attendees that ramble through the entryway at $10 per carload. 

It's all set to begin July 19 at 5056 East Main Road, Batavia with a stockyard classic hog show, the North American Six-Horse Hitch Classic Series, and the fair queen pageant, and the schedule doesn't stop until the final fireworks show is over on July 27.

Fair highlights
Back by popular demand, the North American Six-Horse Hitch Class Series is set for 5:30 p.m. July 19 in the horse arena, with a draft horse farm team show at 6:30 p.m. Tucked into that is the first half of the traditional fair queen pageant at 6 p.m. under the yellow entertainment tent. 

A fair favorite — the talent show — will hit the stage at noon on July 20 under the big yellow tent. Show organizer Laura Kauppi is looking for entrants of any age and type of talent (with the stipulation that acts must be family-friendly), so if you’ve got a song to sing, an instrument to play or a routine to perform, she wants to hear from you.

Participation is free, and there will be small cash prizes for first, second and third-place winners. Register before Sunday to receive a goody bag. Registration forms are available here  

Later that evening at 7 p.m., The Eaglez tribute band will return for another year of “Life in the Fast Lane” and more country and soft rock tunes. 

Knight Patrol, a Rochester 80s cover band, has been added to the lineup for 7 p.m. July 21, capping off the fair queen pageant and crowning earlier that afternoon at 4 p.m.

Meanwhile a Power Wheels demo and garden tractor pulls are scheduled at the track over at the grandstands at 2 and 3 p.m., respectively.

July 22 is Senior Citizen Day, which means half-price entry at $5 per carload from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for seniors and special entertainment by Kelly’s Old Timers Band at noon.

In lieu of the midway’s arrival not happening until Tuesday, there will be several free inflatable bounce houses and obstacle courses set up for kids from 1 to 5 p.m. July 20-22, Pimm said. 

July 23 is Veteran’s Day, with $5 per carload from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for veteran visitors. The midway is set to open from 4 to 9 p.m., with a kids’ day special from noon to 4 p.m. on July 24 and July 27 for $20. 

The fair parade is set for 6:30 p.m. July 23, and 7 p.m. karaoke nights will provide opportunities for folks to perform July 22 for a competition and July 23 for an open mic.

Faith at the Fair, a popular collection of denominational musical performers, is set to begin at 4 p.m. July 24

Unrelenting rain forced the cancellation of last year’s first-time 100-lap Enduro, so organizers have brought it back for a second try as a new element for the fair at 6:30 p.m. July 24 at the Grandstand. 

First Responder’s Day on July 25 means $5 per carload for anyone with a first responder/EMS badge from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is the day when much of the 4-H participants’ hard work culminates in the market animal auction, which begins at 6 p.m. at the main show ring.

"We're working on getting another band for that Thursday," Pimm said. 

The demolition derby is set for 7 p.m. July 26 at the Grandstands while BB Dang turns up a little high-energy pop, rock and country from 7 to 11 p.m. at the yellow entertainment tent. Fireworks wrap up the demo derby.

A new event -- the screaming diesel shootout semi pulls, modified pick-up, street and mini mod tractor pulls, are lined up for 7 p.m. July 27 at the track Grandstand while Nerds Gone Wild get their 80s on — figuratively and literally —with some fun apparel and melodies from the decade. Fair-goers are asked to join the fun by dressing the part.

Fireworks are scheduled to close out the evening and the fair.

In between these highlights there are, of course, the many 4-H animal exhibits and shows, tempting sweet and savory midway and Chuck Wagon foods, carnival games, pig races, kangaroos, trailer of birds, color wars, vendor exhibit halls, a balloon display and demonstration, small fry tractor pulls, a Future Farmers of America competition, radio-controlled car racing, a fair trivia hunt with prizes, and other activities. 

Volunteers are always welcome throughout the event to help out with things such as parking and at the food stand, Pimm said. If you’re interested in helping out, call the fair office at 585-344-2424.

For hours, schedule and other details, go to Genesee County Fair

GC Fair photo with girl and cow
2023 File Photo of Genesee County Fair participant and her cow.
Photo by Howard Owens

Genesee County Fair princess/queen pageant set for July 19 and 21

By Press Release

Press Release:

As the Genesee County Fair approaches, anticipation rises for the annual Princess/Queen Pageant, scheduled to take place on July 19 and 21 at the fairgrounds in Batavia.

The pageant, a highlight of the fair, offers participants a unique opportunity for personal growth and development while also opening doors to significant educational and career prospects. Moreover, it serves as a vital platform for agricultural representation, fostering a positive impact on both individuals and their communities.

Participants in the pageant receive complimentary entry to the fair, granting them access to a plethora of engaging activities and exhibits. The event itself comprises several components, including delivering a speech, showcasing a talent, and fielding questions from a panel of judges. Additionally, contestants have the honor of joining the fair's parade, further enriching their experience.

For those interested in participating, applications are available by emailing geneseecountyfair.pageat.ny@gmail.com.

Genesee County Fair continues to grow, add events, see success, Ag Society says

By Joanne Beck
https://www.thebatavian.com/howard-owens/three-arrests-made-in-alleged-gunfire-incident-in-the-city-of-batavia/635873
File Photo of The Eaglez Tribute Band, which is scheduled for a return visit to this year's Genesee County Fair, set for July 20 to 27. 
Photo by Howard Owens

While larger city fairs are struggling and even shutting down due to poor attendance, the one on Route 5 in Genesee County only gets better with an expanded schedule, Agricultural Society Treasurer Norm Pimm says.

“There’s very few that grow in attendance, and a lot that are hurting. Probably about four years ago, we went from a five-day fair to a seven-day period and then to an eight-day fair. And really, we’re almost a nine-day fair because now we’re starting the Friday night with the draft horses, because we just tried it, we can’t fit everything in the schedule we have, which is a great problem to have,” Pimm said during his annual report to legislators this week. “A lot of fairs now are actually either shrinking down their days or are, some of them just aren’t having them. So we’ve gotten the county support from you guys, the businesses and the attendees. That means a lot to us because that’s what we can use to keep running forward.”

Those larger areas on either side of this county, including Erie and Monroe, don’t seem as agriculturally focused — cue the more than 1,500 animals, 12 six-horse hitch teams from throughout the country, rating it the second largest show in New York State, 170 4-H youth participants aged 8 to 18 and another 35 ages 5 to 7 — and that seems a big draw from in and outside the county, Pimm said.

They were on track to meet or beat the prior year’s record attendance of 70,000; however, Mother Nature really showed up in full force for a first-time Enduro race, causing organizers to cancel that event. 

“We were going to do $5 admission all day, just to try and make it family friendly, the kids come in, you know, bring a family member and have a good day for 20 bucks. And then we had the rain,” he said. “So the sad part is, we had a ton of messages and phone calls on Friday and Saturday from people, like more than any other event, so we held off as long as we could. But we finally said we gotta cancel that. So that put us back a little bit. But we still had about 64,000, which is the year before it was 70, which was the biggest year ever by far.” 

Unlike in past years, when many outgoing calls had to be made to secure vendors and entertainers, he said many of them are requesting to come back this year. Musical groups, including an Eaglez tribute band and BB Dang, will be returning, and the draft horse show “continues to be really huge.”

“I’m not a horse person, so I don’t understand all of it, but they said our footing is the best around,” he said. “They want to be the biggest show in New York State. But it's the second biggest for now. We just don't have any more room to store any of those big, huge horses. They take a lot of space, so we're working on that. We had 122 of them last year, those big, big horses, which was every pen we had.” 

The Genesee County Fair’s midway is also popular and something not to be taken for granted, he said. 

“Midways are going away; it’s hard to do business in New York State,” he said. 

Although organizers would have liked a full week from Saturday to Saturday, this year’s midway will operate from Tuesday to Saturday, he said, per the company’s schedule. To fill in the first weekend of Saturday, Sunday and Monday, there will be bounce houses, roaming entertainment, and other activities, he said. 

The youth livestock auction will also return, competing with 2023’s record year intake of $340,000 of local support that went right back to the kids and to support youth programs, he said. 

Admission will remain the same at $10 per carload “even though expenses have been up by 20% the last two years,” he said. “We’re trying our best to keep it at that as long as we can,” he said. 

By comparison, Erie County charges $22.60 a person, he said.

The stage will feature new entertainment with Nerds Gone Wild and a fun 80s tribute band that has already attracted a Batavia High School class reunion requesting a piece of the action under the yellow tent.

This year’s fair—set for July 20 to 27—will also include remote-controlled race cars free for kids, an 80s night—come dressed in 80s attire—with discounted prices such as a $2 hotdog, entertainment slated for every night of the fair, two nights of fireworks, karaoke, a demolition derby, truck pull, small tractor pull and figure eight racing, plus, of course, the Chuck Wagon and other midway goodies and treats, games and activities. 

He said it takes large amounts of money to operate the fairgrounds year-round and pay for electrical maintenance—"our electric bill has gone up dramatically," he said—and on-site projects are always in the works.

“People don’t realize what it costs to run the fairgrounds for the year. I mean, it’s hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep that place going, and us being a nonprofit and all-volunteer, nobody’s paid, but we do it obviously because it’s been here forever and wants to keep it going,” he said. “We do a lot outside of the fair. So camping does help when we have these livestock shows and horse shows. Those are good moneymakers for us. The food truck rodeos and the horse shows are booked almost every weekend in the summer between the horse show and the livestock show. And then besides, we have the racetrack that we lease that runs almost every weekend as well.”

Legislative Chairwoman Shelley Stein encouraged him to appeal to the county for more funds, given all that the Society members do and the community participation involved. The county increased its funding by $1,000, he said.

The group reviewed and approved a resolution for $12,000 in funding, $1,000 more than in 2023. The resolution will go to the full Legislature for final approval on May 8.

Thomas Keele memorial livestock award recognizes outstanding 4-H member

By Press Release
m-pimm.jpg
Submitted photo of Madelynn Pimm with one of her 4-H Swine Project animals.

Press Release:

The Genesee County 4-H Program proudly announces Madelynn Pimm as the recipient of the 2023 Thomas Keele Memorial 4-H Livestock Award. This award recognizes Madelynn's exceptional achievements in both the 4-H Beef and Swine Projects.

The Thomas Keele Memorial 4-H Livestock Award, made possible by generous donations in memory of Thomas Keele, aims to honor 4-H members who have demonstrated excellence and dedication in livestock projects.

Madelynn Pimm, this year's deserving winner, embodies the spirit of the award through her continuous commitment to learning and her passion for building connections within the agricultural community. Her enthusiasm for showing beef and swine extends beyond the arena, fostering new relationships and connections.

Madelynn's notable accomplishments include winning the title of Grand Champion 4-H Hog Showman at the Genesee County Fair last year. At this year's fair, she further showcased her expertise by winning her 4-H Beef Showmanship class, highlighting her consistent dedication to excellence. Her achievements are not only a testament to her hard work but also an inspiration to fellow 4-H members aspiring to excel in livestock projects.

In her own words, Madelynn expresses her favorite aspect of participating in livestock projects: "I love constantly learning and making new connections. Meeting new people and connecting with them over agriculture is what makes these experiences so meaningful."

For more information about the Thomas Keele Memorial 4-H Livestock Award or to inquire about other Genesee County 4-H programs, please contact the Genesee County 4-H Program at genesee4h@cornell.edu or (585) 343-3040 ext. 101. Genesee County 4-H is a youth development program for youth ages 5-18.  New 4-H youth members, adult volunteers, and clubs are always welcome to join. 

Genesee County Fair ends on positive yet soggy note

By Joanne Beck
Cow and girl fair 2023
Genesee County Fair
Photo by Howard Owens

Darned that Mother Nature and her pesky nimbus clouds. 

She defeated an otherwise seven-day streak to beat or at least match last year’s fair numbers with a dreary daylong onslaught of rain during the very last day.

“It was down only because that last Saturday, we were actually trending ahead. Up until Friday evening, it killed us. So we still figured about 63,000 people, down about 7,000 from the year before,” Ag Society treasurer Norm Pimm said Monday. “Our attendance, for, I think it's 13 straight years, it's been increasing. It has gone up basically double digits every year for the last 13 years. Until this year. So the crazy part is that we were still trying to do that, and Mother Nature didn't let us. All in all, a very, very good year, we look back to where we were, you know, 10 years ago from now. It's still unbelievable.

"The support we got from the community, attendance every day was up, which is really cool," he said. "Vendors all did very well. Food stands were all up over previous years. Midway was awesome.”

Saturday’s downpour meant an 80 percent drop in attendance on Saturday, he said, and the popular Enduro race was canceled. With soaring temperatures for the rest of the week, attendance also dipped a bit during the day but caught up with more people visiting later on, he said.

For the first time in fair history, there was a cooling trailer set up by Turnbull Heating and Cooling, which was a nice added bonus for those seeking some relief from the heat,  Pimm said.

Records were still broken with the largest draught horse show of 11 six-horse hitch teams from across the country and Canada, for a total of about 125 horses in the show; 2,000 animals on the fairgrounds for an assortment of livestock, draught, and auction events;  and 74 cars attending the demolition derby — “the most we’ve had in 20 years,” Pimm said.

There were 72 vendors, including those with food throughout the grounds — only two each of the same type of foods are allowed — and vendors inside the Exhibition building. That was a 25 percent increase from last year, he said. 

It has gotten a little easier to attract those vendors than in times past, he said.

“If you look back, you know, 15 years ago, when our attendance wasn't very strong, it was hard to actually attract vendors to come to our fair, and now the vendors that we have, they're signing up before that previous year's done for them,” he said. “And then we're getting a lot more phone calls from vendors wanting to come into our fair every year because, again, word of mouth. Those vendors travel together and go from fair to fair, carnival to carnival, show to show, and I think the word spreads, you know, we did a really nice job at Genesee County, so then the next year, people want to be in on it.

“Because of our community and community support we've been receiving and the growth that we've seen, it's turning into a really nice fair that people want to go to.”

The livestock auction yielded more than 200 lots and brought in nearly $340,000, an increase of $20,000 from 2022’s record year. Local sponsorships were up, meaning businesses and organizations stepped up to help support the fair, including Bruce Scofield of Stafford, who provided trash pickup at 6 a.m. each morning to ensure a well-maintained and clean fairground, Pimm said.

“We got a lot of comments about how clean our fairgrounds stayed throughout the week,” he said. 

Volunteers also do more than their part — from picking up litter and working the admission booth to cooking and helping at the animal stalls. There were about 100 throughout the week, he said, including kids and adults who would just show up some days and offer their assistance. 

“I think a lot of the times I don't think the community realizes that everybody there is a volunteer, there's not one person paid to help put on that fair,” he said.

There are 20 folks on the Ag Society board, and “we could not put on that fair with 20 people.” They’ll all be gathering for a volunteer appreciation dinner. “It’s just a giant thank you for people who came to volunteer their time throughout the week, so we invite them to the dinner,” he said. 

The board is “always open to suggestions.”

“We take notes, and when we meet, we will go over suggestions. We’re definitely going to be adding back the Enduro race. I had a ton of emails and Facebook messages and phone calls asking, are you running?” he said. “We will run that and the demolition derby again. Maybe have a couple of new bands, and some during the day, and have some daytime entertainment.”

There will be a rain date set for the Enduro, probably in September, he said. That will be publicized once it is finalized with the speedway.  But then again, there’s always something to think about when it comes to the fair and the grounds out on East Main Street, he said.

“So as far as the people, the workers and all that you know, it's a lot of time all year round that we invest in keeping that for the community so the community has something to enjoy. We run the fairgrounds all year round, whether it's during the wintertime putting storage in, or fall putting storage in, and spring getting storage back out, we'd run a bunch of horse shows there, we rent the grounds out … and we generally will operate our food stands to try and generate some revenue. And mowing the lawn, doing weed eating, we’ll be able to recruit people who come in and help with that, so it doesn't weigh on us,” he said. “But in the grand scheme of things, you want to make sure that place is viable for future generations to enjoy and, specifically, the kids coming in having a really good time, they're running around having fun, going on the rides, seeing the animals, being able to pet the animals and get up close to the animals, or even going into the showroom themselves. And when we do stuff like that, you just see the kids light up, you know, and how much fun and how much excitement they have.”

Plans have already been percolating for next year, he said. Actually, “We already started a few weeks ago,” he said. We try to make it a little bit better each year.” 

“Next year, we're gonna ask Mother Nature to cooperate a little bit better. 75 and sunny,” he said.

Saturday's downpour didn't dampen competitive spirits for 2023 talent show

By Joanne Beck
Vee and Avantae Owens, Kho
Valeria "Vee" and Avantae Owens, left and center, and Steve, Chelsie and Maisie Kho show their winning medals for the Adult Category in the 2023 Talent Show at Genesee County Fair on Saturday. 
Photo by Joanne Beck

A nearly perfect week — at least in terms of no rain clouds to disrupt outdoor fun at Genesee County Fair — ended with a continuous downpour Saturday, muddying the parking lots and puddling the stage for the 2023 talent show.

The weather didn’t dampen the competitive spirits of nearly two dozen contestants, however, including Batavia’s Aria Fox, who was concerned that her hard work might have been for nothing.

“She really likes performing,” her mom Karla said. “She was so excited. She saw the rain, and she goes, ‘I’m so glad they didn’t cancel it.’ I watch her try new things and be comfortable.”

Mom was speaking on behalf of the 6-year-old later Saturday because she had earned a visit to her grandmother’s after her performance. Aria played “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” on piano. 

There were several piano entries, plus mostly kids and a few adults playing the flute, violin, dancing, singing, and leading a cheer. 

Isabella Danahy, 12, performed a solo cheer routine, and her younger sister Marilyn played the classic “Fur Elisse” on piano.  They also played a duet of  “Mary Had a Little Lamb” with Isabella on flute and 10-year-old Marilyn on piano.

“I was nervous. I didn’t really like doing stuff in front of people,” Marilyn said, explaining why she pushed herself to participate. “So I can get over that fear.”

Both girls take band at school in Cheektowaga. They knew about the talent show through their teacher and show organizer, Laura Kauppi of Corfu.

"I think it makes me more confident,” Isabella said. 

Sabrina Sanner of Pembroke was looking for those signs of confidence and other winning attributes while scoring as the single judge for the event since 2019. With two degrees in music education, having taught full orchestra and band in school and teaching private music lessons in voice and piano, she brings it all to the table when each contestant walks up on stage.

First, it depends on what they’re performing, she said.

“Some of it is the difficulty level, like the person who won the tiny tots category. She did two hands, stayed in time, had all of her things in the right place. She did very well. And it was more complicated than the other pieces that were played. So like, obviously, she did something harder. And she did it very well,” Sanner said. “When it comes to things like judging dance against music, it depends on how well they do the dance versus how well they play their song. I did learn from the back, when we used to have a panel, how to judge dances and stuff like that because I'd asked them questions on how they were doing. And it's how well they're smiling, you know, where their movements are with the music, how much impact it has on you watching them, which is a very kind of hard thing to judge. So I've learned a lot from the other past judges that we've had on how to do this.”

This was the first year she’s had to judge a cheerleading routine, but she also brought some experience for that task too.

“I used to do cheerleading, so I also know about that. It is hard to cross-judge them. But as I said, it's the difficulty. So I do know a lot about the difficulty levels of everything that they were doing and has to do with how well they're doing. You know, with cheerleading, it's like how straight your limbs are; there were a lot of her jumps where her legs are still bent or something like that,” Sanner said. “And with music, it's like, if you pause while you're playing, you're not supposed to do that, or if you hit a wrong note, and I don't think anybody really had any wrong notes this year, which was impressive also. But stuff like that. So you kind of just see where people are kind of missing things in their performance, and then go by which ones are bigger, like with dancing, it's smiling is a really huge one. So if they're not smiling, you get a lot off for that.

“But I've been doing this for a while. I judge other things too. So other events. Yeah, the studio I work for and teach privately for they do a competition every year,” she said. “And I've obviously like gotten kids ready for music competitions and stuff for years and years now.”

One new challenge this year was the unrelenting rain. The talent show is under the yellow and white entertainment tent, yet still — water pooled on the ground around the stage and on top of it. Sometimes a judge has to take Mother Nature’s effects into consideration when rating a performer, she said. 

“I don’t think it's ever been this bad. I do think it rained a few years ago, but it's definitely never been on the stage like this,” she said. “The three dancers … the middle girl who had that solo, her flags got all wet when they were sitting on the floor. So I did take that into consideration that their flags weren't moving the way they were supposed to because they were weighed down.”

Kauppi was very pleased with the turnout, not only the number of kids but the quality of their skills, she said.  There were several winners, and everyone received a goodie bag for participating. 

“The students are all extremely talented people, they’ve worked really hard this year. I know some families started their work on this year's (talent show) at the end of last year. So people were really excited to perform. And it was amazing to have everybody come out despite the rain and the challenges that the rain brought technology-wise,” Kauppi said. “I ended up grabbing a new speaker this morning because I wanted a speaker that was absolutely waterproof. And that (pointing to the one she chose) is super waterproof.”

And the winners were:

Tiny Tots
Tiny Tots category winners, shown with talent show coordinator Laura Kauppi.
Photo by Joanne Beck

Tiny Tots

  • 1st -  Emma Snyder, piano
  • 2nd - Chelsie Kho, piano 
  • 3rd - A tie between Aria Fox, piano, and Azalea Sieczkarski, piano
Mini category
Mini Category winners.
Photo by Joanne Beck

Mini

  • 1st - Chelsie Kho, piano
  • 2nd - dance with Chelsie Kho, Maisie Kho, Charlotte Jin
  • 3rd - Keyon Thomas
  • Honorable Mention - Isabella Danahy 
Maxi category
Maxi category winners, Trevon Byrd being represented by his mom.
Photo by Joanne Beck

Maxi 

  • 1st - Trevon Byrd, vocal
  • 2nd - Seren Byrd, piano

Adults (Top photo)

  • 1st - Vee Owens, vocal
  • 2nd - Steve Kho, Chelsie Kho and Maisie Kho, family band
  • 3rd - Avantae Owens and Vee Owens, piano duet 
Happy avantae owens
Avantae Owens displays some excitement after his piano duet with mom Vee Owens Saturday during the 2023 Genesee County Fair Talent Show.
Photo by Joanne Beck
Isabella and Marilyn Danahy
Isabella Danahy, left, and her sister Marilyn flank their mom as they perform "Mary Had a Little Lamb" Saturday during the 2023 Genesee County Fair talent show. Talent show coordinator Laura Kauppi holds the mic for them during the performance. 
Photo by Joanne Beck

Photos: RC Racing Championship at the Genesee County Fair

By Howard B. Owens
RC racing genesee county fair

Racers found slick conditions when they were at last summoned for the 24-lap championship of the Genesee County Fair RC Racing event on the north end of the fairgrounds.

Eight cars were sponsored by local businesses, and race fans tried their skills at the oval track multiple times a day throughout the fair. Each winner received a small trophy and an invitation back to the final race on the final day of the fair on Saturday.

There were two semifinal races and then the final championship run, which came shortly after a bit of drizzle began to fall.

Photos by Howard Owens

RC racing genesee county fair
RC racing genesee county fair
RC racing genesee county fair
RC racing genesee county fair
RC racing genesee county fair
RC racing genesee county fair
RC racing genesee county fair
RC racing genesee county fair
RC racing genesee county fair
RC racing genesee county fair
Kevin and Brady Henning with the championship trophy. 
Photo by Howard Owens

Photo: Completed air sculpture at the Genesee County Fair

By Howard B. Owens
Janice Spagnola, the "balloon lady,"
Janice Spagnola, the "balloon lady," with her completed air sculpture, an underwater scene, at the Genesee County Fair. Spagnola completed her sculpture on Friday night and showed it off for guests to enjoy on Saturday.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Photos: Final rides on the Midway at the Genesee County Fair

By Howard B. Owens
midway genesee county fair

It was a damp day on the final day of the Genesee County Fair on Saturday, but on the Midway, the show must go on, and as the fair wound down, photographer Nick Serrata took one final look at the fun and games to be had at the Midway.

midway genesee county fair
midway genesee county fair
midway genesee county fair

The People's Choice: Eagle drawing by Tylin Torcello

By Howard B. Owens
Eagle Entry 19

An eagle drawing by Tylin Torcello, of Batavia, received the most votes during two days of voting at the Media Center at the Genesee County Fair from readers of The Batavian to earn the People's Choice Award. The prize is a harmonica.

To see all 20 of the staff favorites that were finalists in the People's Choice Award, click here.

Previously:

Eagle Entry 17
Second Place, by Miranda Tamburlih, 15.
Eagle Entry 11
Third place, by Vincent Domick, 15.

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Batavia resident wins Red Osier gift certificate in eagle-drawing contest at fair

By Staff Writer
red osier winner
Batavia resident Jadan Torcello receives a $100 gift certificate from Red Osier Landmark Restaurant on Friday from Howard Owens, publisher of The Batavian. Torcello entered The Batavian's eagle-drawing contest at the Genesee County Fair in the 18-and-older category, and her drawing was among staff favorites selected for a random drawing to win the gift certificate.
Photo by Jim Ernst.
eagle drawing Genesee County Fair
The winning drawing in the 18-and-old category of The Batavian's eagle-drawing contest at the Genesee County Fair by Jadan Torcello 

Photos: Audibull cranks it up and rocks it out at the fair

By Howard B. Owens
audibull at genesee county fair

Genesee County's own Audibull provided live music entertainment at the Genesee County Fair on Friday.

Audibull is Tim Pitcher on guitar, Bill Christiano on bass, Chris Iannone on drums, and Todd Tracy on lead vocals.

Photos by Howard Owens.

Audibull
audibull at genesee county fair
audibull at genesee county fair
audibull at genesee county fair
audibull at genesee county fair
audibull at genesee county fair

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