HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) — The firefighters and veterans parades that have been a staple of the Erie County fair are coming to a halt this year, along with the annual camp-out on fair property.
Officials with the Erie County Fair tell News 4 the cancelation comes after dangerous behavior and too many incidents from past years.
“There have been many cases of people taking the fun that happens on the infield a little too far,” said Erie County Fair CEO Jessica Underberg to News 4’s Abby Fridmann.
“And I know people are pushing me for those examples, but honestly, Abby, I’m not going to give them. They are embarrassing for everybody.”
Response to this news has some fair-goers outraged to a point Underberg has never seen before.
“The personal attacks and physical threats to our staff and team have forced us to lock down our office and call the police,” Underberg said.
“And if that’s what this policy change has gotten to, then people have lost the focus of what’s really important, and it furthers our resolve that we have made the right decision,” she added.
There are peaceful protestors who have started petitions to try to come to a resolution. Marilou Bebak’s petition has gained over 200 signatures from those who want to see parades and dugouts brought back.
“Let’s be proactive. Let’s figure out a way to do this that satisfies their security and liability concerns,” said Bebak.
Suggestions in Bebak’s petition include having both parades combined into one, letting firefighters and veterans tailgate in the parking lot instead of the fairgrounds, and putting limitations on what can be brought into the dugout.
Bebak does not condone the threats against fair organizers but says there needs to be a way to honor those who serve.
“This is not appropriate at all, but that’s why I want to be proactive,” said Bebak. “I don’t think they realized how important this was to the community. This is Western New York.”
The Erie County Fair will honor firefighters and veterans. Underberg says they will hold daily ceremonies, admission will be free with proper ID, $10 food vouchers will be given, and there will be memorial services.