Off with a bang

The Chautauqua County Fair – as every year – got started with a bang on Monday. The 133rd annual county fair officially opened by local elected officials lighting the cannon.

Chautauqua County Fair First Vice President James Tytka Jr. welcomed those in attendance on behalf of President Roy Harrington, who was unable to attend. Tytka congratulated the entire board of directors on hosting another successful week, adding they have been planning since last summer. Tytka is hopeful for great weather and excellent attendance throughout the week. To start the opening ceremony, Katelyn Miller, a 4-H member, sang the National Anthem.

Fair Public Relations Director Michael Ferguson thanked fair sponsors, in addition to the county fire departments. Ferguson thanked Dan King, a local firefighter, and several fire departments that donated money for the first-ever Kindergarten Day; on Monday, any kindergartner received free fair admission. Ferguson was also thankful for the beautiful sunshine-filled skies and hopes the weather will cooperate through Sunday.

Several local dignitaries joined Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan, who officially lighted the cannon, including Kevin Muldowney from Sen. Catharine Young’s office, Chautauqua County Legis-lator Lisa Vanstrom, Fredonia Mayor Stephen Keefe, Dunkirk Mayor An-thony J. Dolce, Assembly-man Andrew Goodell, Dan Heitzenrater from Con-gressman Tom Reed’s office, Lori Cornell from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office and Dunkirk Police Chief David Ortolano.

Horrigan praised the County Fair for highlighting the county’s agriculture. He called the fair a great “American tradition.” Horrigan also praised the Chautauqua County 4-H program for all the work that they do.

“… (The fair is) to really celebrate agriculture in Chautauqua County but to celebrate fun – to watch the kids with the animals and to look at the leadership and the opportunities that 4-H provides. I think it’s an exciting time for us and I’m hopeful this message, as we fire off the cannon, resonates across western New York to bring people to enjoy this great place we call Chautauqua County,” Horrigan said.

Goodell said the county should be proud of its farming and agricultural industry which brings in millions of dollars in revenue. Accord-ing to Goodell, Chautauqua County has more farms than any other county in the state. Vanstrom, a Dunkirk native, remembered bringing her children every year since they were born. She said the fair gives an opportunity for “good food, agriculture, entertainment and rides.” Dolce welcomed the fair back to the city of Dunkirk and said the city “absolutely loves hosting this event.”

In the absence of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, James Bays, first deputy commissioner for New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, read a statement from Cuomo. Bays said the county fair celebrates agriculture in a setting that’s fun for all ages.

“A variety of exhibits, displays and local talent invites residents and visitors to experience the best of Chautauqua County and the pride of your community,” Bays read.

The county fair runs through Sunday. For a complete schedule of events, visit www.chautauquacountyfair.org.

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