Partnership Is the Longest Continuous Run of Any Carnival Operator in Modern Midway History
HAMBURG, NEW YORK - The Erie County Agricultural Society announced today that it has extended its contract with the Strates Shows Inc. by 10 years as the sole carnival midway provider for the Erie County Fair in Hamburg, New York (Buffalo). The contract for amusement services between Strates Shows and the Erie County Fair now extends to 2026.
"We are pleased to have secured a long-term relationship with the Strates Shows," said Dennis R. Lang, CEO & Erie County Fair Manager. "For the past 91 years, the Strates Shows has provided Western New York with an exceptionally entertaining and safe family experience."
Three generations of Strates family members, E. James Strates, his son John Strates and grandson Nick Strates joined representatives of the Erie County Fair for the announcement and ceremonial contract signing at the Fairgrounds.
"Beyond just a contractual relationship, we truly regard the Strates as part of the Erie County Fair family. The 10 year contract means that the Strates Shows will be part of the Erie County Fair beyond their 100th anniversary with us," said Lang. "We look forward to a centennial celebration with Strates in 2024."
"Strates Shows and the Strates family are delighted to be part of the time-honored tradition of the Erie County Fair," said E. James Strates, President of the Strates Shows. "In 1924, when my father signed the first contract, little did we know or expect that nine decades later the relationship would still be flourishing and growing. There is a bond between not only the show and the fair, but with independent operators, agricultural people, the local community and our many lifelong friends. It's an unbroken tradition that few fairs and carnivals share."
The exclusive relationship between the Erie County Fair and the Strates Shows, now in its 92nd year, is considered a historical milestone in the modern amusement industry.
According to Robert Johnson, President of the Outdoor Amusement Business Association, the relationship between the Strates Shows and the Erie County Fair is the longest continuous run of any carnival midway in the United States. The next longest run would be 84 years between Reithoffer Shows and the Delaware County Fair in Walton, New York.
"I can't think of another carnival operator in the United States with a longer run than what the Erie County Fair has with Strates," said Johnson. "It's rare in modern business times to see such a strong relationship. It is a tribute to the Erie County Fair and the Strates family. The Strates Shows ongoing commitment to quality, safety and innovation, added to its close relationship with the Erie County Agricultural Society's management, makes for a great partnership. It's this type of partnership that we would like to see emulated at fairs across the county."
To commemorate the extended relationship, Strates Shows and the Erie County Fair are inviting fairgoers to join in on the celebration. On August 18, 2016, "Strates Day at the Fair," fairgoers to the Erie County Fair will be able to enjoy 90-minutes of free midway rides from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
"Together, we have been through decades of change and tremendous growth that brings us to the upcoming 2016 fair," said Strates. "This wonderful, family-oriented event continues to promote and showcase the community's agricultural traditions, talents, diversity and heritage. We look forward to seeing everyone at the fair!"
Unique among today's amusement operators, The Strates Shows is the only "railroad carnival" in North America. Each spring, the Strates Shows leaves its winter quarters in Florida and begins an eight-month journey by rail that transports their equipment to fairgrounds across the eastern seaboard and northeast. The "fair train," as commonly known in Western New York, currently is comprised of over 50 rail cars. The arrival of the Strates train at the depot in the Village of Hamburg, a living piece of Americana, will be celebrated this August.
About the Strates Shows
The Strates Shows is a 93-year-old family owned business with headquarters in Orlando, Florida. Founded in 1923 by Greek immigrant James E. Strates as the Southern Tier Shows in Elmira, New York, the Strates Shows is considered one of America's premiere providers of carnival midways. After the death of James E. Strates in 1959, his only son E. James Strates, took over as manager of the company and is still actively involved in its operation. Now in its 9th decade, the Strates Shows are led by the 3rd generation of Strates family members including Susan, Jimmy, Sibyl, Jay and John. Nick Strates, who officially joined the show full-time during the 2015 season, is the 4th generation of the Strates family to continue the tradition. Over the decades, the Strates Shows has brought many innovations to the carnival industry, including cooperative promotions, a centralized ticket system, advance ticket sales, and, most recently, the FunCard electronic ticketing system that utilizes bar codes to control access to carnival rides on the midway.
About the Erie County Fair
The Erie County Agricultural Society is a private not-for-profit membership organization. Established in 1819, the Society is the oldest civic organization in Western New York. The mission of the Erie County Agricultural Society (ECAS), sponsors of the Erie County Fair, is to preserve and enhance, by educational endeavors, the agricultural and historical legacy of New York State. The Fair strives to fulfill appropriate aspects of the agricultural, educational, entertainment and recreational needs of Western New York. The 2016 Erie County Fair will be held August 10th - 21st (www.ECFair.org)