The Weekender: if it feels good, do it
blog by Ben Kirst • July 20, 2012 @ 8:00am
There’s a lot to do on a summer weekend in Western New York—so much so that one can sometimes suffer from the dilemma of too many choices, choosing to blow off the available options for a lazy afternoon on the beach or in the backyard. Sure, that’s fine once in a while, but you don’t want to start passing up too many choice opportunities because your rut has become so comfortable.
Here’s a quick guide to some interesting weekend events in the region, conveniently sliced into categories. Now start planning.
Guys: If it feels good, do it
Buffalo Subaru 4-Mile Chase: 7 p.m., Friday, July 20, Bidwell Park (Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo). If you have any sort of athletic ability or endurance, this is the one race to run—particularly with a few buddies. How famous is the Subaru Chase for its party atmosphere? Put it this way—the official happy hour begins at 5 p.m., while the race itself starts at 7 p.m. With $10,000 in prize money at stake, expect some very serious runners, but you don’t need to worry about that. Plan on hanging out with a lot more sweaty, happy people (including a large number of females) at the legendary post-race celebration.
Hamburg Burger Fest: Noon - 11:30 p.m., Saturday, July 21, Main and Buffalo Sts., Hamburg. Pounding delicious cheeseburgers and drinking ice-cold beer is perhaps the ideal form of male bonding. The Hamburg Burger Festival ostensibly commemorates the “invention” of the hamburger at a town fair in 1885—others may question that claim—but the real fun is found in the annual burger-eating contest, lineup of local bands, classic car show, 5K race (11 a.m.) and wide assortment of other, non-burger-related delicacies. Passing up a celebration of hamburgers? That seems almost un-American, pal.
Sloan: 6 p.m., Saturday, July 21, Hard Rock Cafe (333 Prospect St., Niagara Falls USA). We’re talking about one of the greatest Canadian rock bands of all time here, guys. Sloan’s string of 1990s favorites remains in heavy rotation on Canadian radio (singles like “The Good in Everyone,” “If It Feels Good Do It,” “Money City Maniacs” and “Underwhelmed,” among others). It’s straightforward, 1970s-style hard rock with a slightly punked-out edge —Sloan sounds kind of like a cross between Kiss, Cheap Trick and your buddy’s high school garage band. Anyhow, this concert is free and will be well worth your time / trouble.
Ladies: poppin’ bottles in the suburbs, taking over local landmarks
Party on the Portico: 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Friday, July 20, Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society (25 Nottingham Court, Buffalo). The work week is done, ladies—it’s time to have a few drinks. You could squeeze into some crowded patio, or—even worse—get stuck inside some dark, dank bar on a beautiful Buffalo summer evening. Forget that scene and head to the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society for one of their patented Parties on the Portico. Enjoy a spacious, outdoor setting at one of the city’s most historic sites (with one of the best views, by the way) while quaffing drinks from the cash bar ($4 for wine / beer) and absorbing the delightful jangle-pop of A Potter’s Field. Or, you know, go to Applebee’s. Your choice.
Ooo La La two-year anniversary celebration: 12:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m., Saturday, July 21, Ooo La La Boutique (663 Main St., East Aurora). Ooo La La owner Crista Botticello will celebrate two successful years of fashion, fun and friendship in East Aurora with a 12:30 p.m. champagne toast at her trendy East Aurora women’s clothing boutique. Then the real excitement begins—two hours of shopping, discounts and specials. Crista will also have sweets and beverages on hand to keep the party rolling.
Mayer Hawthorne: 7 p.m., Sunday, July 22, Town Ballroom (681 Main St., Buffalo). There’s a subtle movement towards retro, soulful, well-dressed young men in the musical world right now—think Miles Kane, Frank Ocean, Michael Fitzpatrick, Maxwell, even the notorious John Mayer. Clean-cut, confident, imminently talented with just a hint of danger, these are musicians are gentlemen, not little boys. After a mid-career switch from hip-hop to soul, Mayer Hawthorne finds himself sporting the same vintage cloth—an R&B-infused Lothario with impeccable musical taste and a penchant for beautiful suits. Hell, I think I’m falling in love with the guy. Ladies, descend en masse upon this performance.
Date Night: a little something for everyone
Ingrid Michaelson: 7 p.m., Friday, July 20, Town Ballroom (681 Main St., Buffalo). If you watch TV—more specifically, if you watch female-oriented prime-time dramas—you may be well-acquainted with the work of Ingrid Michaelson and not even know it. Michaelson’s well-known songs like “Be OK,” “The Way I Am,” and “Maybe” have appeared in shows like Grey’s Anatomy, The Vampire Diaries, One Tree Hill and various other romantic dramas. Michaelson’s most recent album, Human Again, spent 19 weeks on the U.S. charts earlier this year, peaking at number five. Her folky, introspective style and penchant for incorporating a mix of catchy, syncopated electronica into her revealing music creates the perfect soundtrack for meaningful gazes and hand-holding.
National Garden Festival Grassroots Community Gardens Tour: 9:45 a.m., Saturday, July 21, Hyatt Regency Downtown (2 Fountain Plaza, Buffalo). Want to enjoy a solid day of quality time as a couple from which neither of you can escape? Get on the bus, my cheery little lovebirds—the six-hour Community Gardens Tour offers a guided look of some of Buffalo’s most vibrant green spaces, a delicious lunch from Panera Bread and plenty of opportunities for serendipitous little moments of romance whose retelling will embarrass your children for years to come. By the way, Buffalo’s participation in the National Garden Festival is easily the largest in the nation. We’re number one! Take that, Super Bowl.
Closing day of the Canal Fest of the Tonawandas: 8 a.m. to dusk, Sunday, July 22, Tonawanda / North Tonawanda downtown canal district. Catch the final day of one of Western New York’s signature festivals—a big event that maintains a delightfully retro, mid-century feel. If you’re feeling particularly energetic, you and your mate can start as early as 8 a.m. at the Knights of Columbus buffet breakfast and then work your way through the flea market, arts and craft show, youth performances, free concert with the great Lance Diamond and festival-closing fireworks. And, of course, there’s a ton of rides, carnival-style food, beer and shenanigans to rekindle the spark of adventure in even the dullest of relationships. Perhaps we should start calling this the Love Canal Fest? Actually, that is a terrible idea.
Child’s play: trick your kids into learning
Buffalo Bisons Turn the Park Pink: 7 p.m., Friday, July 20, Coca-Cola Field (1 James D. Griffin Plaza, Buffalo). Our hometown baseball team is stepping up to the plate in the fight against cancer. The Bisons ask that all fans wear pink to their fridaynightbash! showdown with the Charlotte Knights and enjoy their pre-game party, in-game raffles and post-game fireworks. The game is sponsored by the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer, ladies, so those in-game giveaways will be pretty sweet. Cancer survivors are admitted free (you do need to call ahead to reserve seats, however). Celebrate life and family while soaking in the ambiance of America’s pastime.
Food Font: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, July 21, Bidwell Park. I’ll let my teammate Kat Przybyla explain this one: “Food Font is an interactive art project where people can make alphabets out of food, take pictures of each letter and later use these and other food alphabets in a fun, free, interactive online design tool. With the tool, you can write with various food alphabets, choose backgrounds, and do basic layout techniques to make images that can be saved, shared electronically, and also printed. The tool can be used to make images, posters, signs, and other printed materials.” I think we can all agree that the Carrot font would be a lot more fun for kids learning letters than Times New Roman.
Family Saturdays at Artpark: Noon to 4 p.m., Saturday, July 21, Artpark (450 S. Fourth St., Lewiston). If you’re on the fence about the somewhat lengthy drive to Lewiston—and unless you live in, well, Lewiston, it’s kind of a hike—keep this in mind: admission to Family Saturdays is free. Parking is free. This week’s theme is “Outdoor Art: Find what you can make with supplies from your own backyard!” and anything encouraging kids to tear their eyes from the nearest television / tablet / computer / PSP screen is a good thing. Plus, Lewiston is a beautiful, historic village, Niagara Falls is easily accessible and there is a ton of fun, free outdoor stuff to do along the way. It’s a family bonding adventure.