HAMBURG — Western New York residents are known for their resiliency and labor ethic.
It’s no surprise, therefore, that we engage a superhuman level of energy, to get as much as we can from our all-too-brief summers. A record number of visitors attended the 2013 Erie County Fair, breaking the previous record, by 10 percent. Attendance topped out Sunday night at 1,160,184. The previous record was 1,053,150, set in 2011.
Not that the fair needs any additional attractions to boost attendance, but next year’s event – the 175th annual Erie County Fair – may feature a high-wire act by daredevil tight-rope walker Nik Wallenda. He wants to walk 200 feet above the spacious midway, without the use of a tether, a safety feature he was compelled to use, in his walk over Niagara Falls.
People will still go to the Fairgrounds next summer, without Wallenda, eager to sample food that was never meant to be deep-fried and experience all that the pig barn has to offer. According to the calendar, summer begins June 21 and ends Sept. 21.
For those who have children of school age, the season begins when the last exam is taken and ends when the yellow school bus appears, at the corner. There is an urgency here to sprint through the summer, attending as many festivals as possible, eating ice cream by the lake or river, bumming a ride on a neighbor’s sailboat and circling the date for one’s favorite Bisons promotion, at Coca-Cola Field.
It’s a wonder we get anything done at work, during those three months.
The proliferation of festivals and summer events range in location from the Erie Canal, to the West Side, to Canalside, to the Outer Harbor, to Eden, to Williamsville and beyond. Each has its own theme and predictable patrons, but none is in danger of being dropped from the slate. We wait all year for the summer sun, and become sadly quiet as evening arrives sooner and sooner, each evening in August.
Last week, the village of Williamsville added a new event, dubbed “Picture Main Street.” Planners wanted residents to envision a more walkable community, free from the congestion that comes with the major state highway that cuts through the heart of the community. I’m sure many motorists were inconvenienced, but the three-hour block party received rave reviews from families living closest to the roadway in question.
It’s similar to an event held each July in East Aurora. The roadway restriction is in place much longer on the day of the event, but traffic there does not compare to Route 5 in Williamsville.
The Buffalo Bisons baseball team does its share to accelerate summer, with giveaways galore and fun theme nights. The games began four days after Easter, and sadly, the last regular season home game is Thursday, Aug. 29. Consider yourself a budding fan, if you now wished you had mustered up the courage to go to some of those cooler evening games.
These are the things about summer that we will miss most, as pro football intrudes on our weekends. I love those warm September afternoons, but they do not compare to July mornings, when temperatures are already exceeding 75, as you head to work.
I consider myself fortunate that my allotment of vacation days will undergo its annual resupply next week, as I begin my 37th year as a professional journalist. Since last August, I was able to see major league baseball games in Washington, San Diego, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Cleveland. I watched the sun set over the Pacific Ocean.
I had intended to go to a driving range, as the first step in being a weekend golfer, and fortunately, still have time to do so. Maybe I will get the bicycle cleaned up, because there is time to enjoy it, as well.
Exhausted from the pace of summer, I also realize we are four months away from the first day of winter. Let’s hope we all can enjoy the time, while we have it.
David F. Sherman is managing editor of Bee Group Newspapers and a columnist for the Weekly Independent Newspapers of Western New York, a group of community newspapers with a combined circulation of 286,500 readers. Opinions expressed here are those of the author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.