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Awards - Fair Person Of The Year

Jessica Underberg
Erie County Fair

Jessica L . Underberg was born for her job as CEO and Fair Manager of the Erie CountyAgricultural Society.

Her involvement at the Erie County Agricultural Society began in 1985 while participating in exhibits in the Fair’s Youth Development Building. In1988, she showed 4-H Beef Cattle for the first time, and continued to show 4-H beef cattle, hogs, and dairy cattle through 1995. In 1992, Underberg won the Fair’s Master Beef Showman title - an accomplishment that still evokes tremendous personal pride.

Underberg began her career at the Erie County Agricultural Society in 1996 when she began working part-time in the Administrative Office. Following graduation from Canisius College in 1998, where she earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Sciences, she joined the Society full-time. In 2000 she was named the Fair’s Agriculture and Competitive Exhibits Manager.

In 1999, she created the Fair’s AgSperience exhibit to provide fairgoers a better understanding of farmers, their animals, and crops, which resulted to the development and construction of the Agricultural Discovery Center in 2014. In 2010 she created the award-winning Farm 2 Table educational program with the goal to teach students about the importance of agriculture in their lives, reinforce healthy nutrition, and to engage their natural curiosity through a multimodal approach. 

In October 2017 Underberg was named CEO and Fair Manager, becoming responsible for all aspects of Erie County Fairgrounds. In her role as CEO of the Erie County Agricultural Society, Jessica has consistently exhibited her ability to work through unforeseen challenges, largely due to her exceptional critical thinking skills.

In 2007, Jessica earned her Certified Fair Executive status from the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE). In 2008 Underberg was on a team that helped develop the IAFE’s Young Professionals Initiative to encourage a new generation of leadership among fairs across the world. She has served on various IAFE committees and has been elected to numerous leadership posts, including being the IAFE’s Board of Directors Zone 1 Representative (2014 to 2016) and Chairperson of the IAFE (2019).


She is a member of the NYSAAF, where she served as the organization’s President (2010-2011)and on the Board of Directors of the Cornell Cooperative Extension from (2009-2011). Sherepresented the Erie County Fair at the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth’s conferences in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2010 and Brisbane, Australia in 2014. She is a member of Buffalo’s Business First “40 under 40” class of 2014.

Past Fair Person Of The Year:
1983- Henry Leeworthy.. Chautauqua County
1984- Alex Duffy..... Jefferson County
1985- Paul Laing..... Erie County
1986- Peter Sinclair..... Livingston County
1987- Phil Caird..... Rensselaer County
1988- Dr. Garth A. Murray..... Stueben County
1989- Gordon Wright..... Washington County
1990- Gladys Blatchley..... Thompkin County
1991- Matt Matteo..... Monroe County
1992 Chuck Franklin..... Broome County
1993- George A. Payne..... Ontario County
1994- Jerry D. Thomas..... Oswego County
1995- Wayne H. Gallagher..... NY State Fair
1996- M.L. (Bud) Johnson ..Herkimer County
1997- Newell F. Wagoner..... Oneida County
1998- Larry Zeliff..... Allegany County
1999- John Anderson..... Yates County
2000- John Hamilton..... Rensselaer County
2001- Jacob Sammons...Montgomery County
2002- George Hoffmier..... Tioga County
2003- Peter Cappuccilli..... NY State Fair
2004- Gary Tweedie..... Delaware County
2005- Marilyn Trainor..... Oneida County
2006- Michael J. Sommers..... NY State Fair
2007- Norma Hamilton..... Rensselaer County
2008- Dick Elthorp..... Herkimer County
2009- Bob Grems ...... Dutchess County
2010- Denny Lang...... Erie County Fair
2011- John Burr.......Lewis County Fair
2012- Gerry Elthorp......Herkimer County Fair
2013- Frank Griffin......Saratoga County Fair
2014-Mark St Jacques.....Washington County Fair
2015- Robert Simpson.....Jefferson County Fair
2016- Jeff Mayne....Madison County Fair
2017 - Jim Folts.... Yates County Fair
2018 - R.Harry Booth.... Washington County Fair
2019 - Russell Marquart... Erie County Fair