Midway rides being assembled at Cattaraugus County Fairgrounds

Charlie Belknap, who does marketing and media for Powers & Thomas Midway Entertainment, stands by the new Flying Elephants ride that will be at the Cattaraugus County Fair Aug 1-7.

LITTLE VALLEY — Many Cattaraugus County Fair midway rides and concessions were already in place by Wednesday afternoon.

After a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19, the county fair has seven days of entertainment planned for fairgoers.

Powers and Thomas midway rides had already been assembled and independent food concessions had arrived and were being washed down and readied for the Sunday opening of the 178th Cattaraugus County Fair.

Midway rides will start humming about 4 p.m. on Sunday. Other days they will start running at 1 p.m. The rides are free with the pay-one-price fair admission.

Advance sale tickets are on sale through Saturday for $8, a $4 savings, at the fairgrounds office, via etix.com, Cattaraugus County Bank offices, Olean area Community Bank offices, Cattaraugus County FCU and South Dayton Super Duper.

Charlie Belknap, who handles marketing for Powers & Thomas, predicted good-sized crowds “after people have been closed-up in their homes” for the past year and a half. “This is the first major county fair in this part of the state. The Chautauqua County Fair did not open again this year.”

Belknap said crowds have been good on the circuit Powers & Thomas are on this season.

The real problem for the midway entertainment company is the same with other employers, he said. They can’t find enough employees. “I’ve never seen it this bad in the business.” Their schedule needs to include enough time to tear down the rides, transport them to the next fair and put them up again with fewer workers.

Belknap said two brand new rides are included in this year’s midway, a Disney-themed Flying Elephants and a Tea Cups ride. “We got them last year when we shut down and never used them due to COVID,” he explained.

Belknap is no stranger to the Cattaraugus County fairgrounds. He recalls coming to the fair in the late 1970s with the Helldrivers auto thrill show, and later with the Joey Chitwood show. He was an investor and promoter in those days. “I’m back again,” he smiled.

Belknap said social distancing is encouraged wherever possible, and that masks are not required. People are welcome to wear masks wherever they want, he said. There will be signs with any specific directions. Hand sanitizer will be available near food concessions.

Powers & Thomas Midway Entertainment are based in North Carolina. Their last stop before Little Valley was Manassas, Va., where they closed on Sunday and drove 405 miles to get here.

After the Cattaraugus County Fair closes Saturday, Aug. 7, they’ll head to Warren, Pa., then Ridgway, Pa. and close the tour out in Stoneboro, Pa., Belknap said.

County fair officials point out tickets for grandstand shows, even free shows, can be ordered online or at the fair office.

Grandstand events include:

Aug. 1 — Broken B Rodeo.

Aug. 2 — Demolition Derby.

Aug. 3 — Freebird concert (Lynryd Skynyrd tribute band).

Aug. 4 — Jordan Davis country music concert.

Aug. 5 — Justin Moore country music concert.

Aug. 6 — Monster Truck rally.

Aug. 7 — Monster Truck rally/Big Rig Truck Pull.

Daily gate admission is $12 for everyone age two and older and includes unlimited Powers & Thomas Midway rides and grounds shows.