DUNKIRK — Saturday’s monster truck grandstand show at the Chautauqua County Fair quickly turned into a stressful situation for 4-H’ers and their families in the animal barns.
Fireworks included in the show were loud enough that animals across the fairgrounds were alarmed, pulling some people into dangerous situations.
Rick Klisiewicz, whose daughter had a horse in the 4-H horse barn, described the event as “a nightmare.”
“We were actually at the monster truck show, and we got a call from the horse barn saying that the horses were freaking out,” Klisiewicz said. “We got back there and they were, including my daughter’s horse.”
Many of the horses had to be given calming medicine to make them relax as the fireworks continued throughout the show that Klisiewicz estimated to be an hour long, though he said no one was keeping track of the time at that time. In the barn, the focus was on calming the animals, closing up the barn, and getting fairgoers out of the way in case a horse got out.
“My daughter’s horse threw me through the door,” Klisiewicz said. “One kicked a door open. Some were actually trying to climb up the walls because they were so scared. I heard of a few other issues in the other barns.”
After the incident, Klisiewicz said some of the fair workers took him over to the first-aid station, but he said he soon returned as they worked to get many of the horses into trailers and off of the grounds. He was not sure who else was hurt by the incident.
“It was a dangerous situation,” Klisiewicz said. “I’m not really a show person, so I don’t see a reason why there had to be explosions with the monster truck show, when the trucks are loud enough already, especially without a warning to those in the barns.”
Klisiewicz expressed disappointment that 4-H’ers and their families were not given a warning ahead of time.
“I feel the fair board or personnel should have let us know,” Klisiewicz said. “But, hindsight is 20-20.”
Dave Wilson, fair board president, apologized for the incident.
“I can honestly say, yes, I heard about it but I don’t really know what happened,” Wilson said. “I apologized because nobody mentioned it to me. I did hear animals were scared. I heard about a few goats and some others. I wasn’t there, and I didn’t hear about it until the next day.”
Wilson said when setting up the show the fireworks were more “over the top” than he had expected and he had not wanted that many to be in the show.
“I had expected more like what we had last year,” Wilson said. “It never even crossed my mind, but I had 10,000 things on my mind throughout the week. I did apologize to everyone. It will not happen again on my watch.”