by Matt Steinberg

The inaugural National Garden Festival is coming to town this summer, and it’s an event like no other in the country. It’s a five week celebration (June 18 to July 25) of our garden walks, talks, tours and events. The Festival will be like a great, green umbrella under which garden tours, the Japanese Garden, the Erie Basin Marina Gardens, the Botanical Gardens, the Rose Garden, the Elmwood-Bidwell Farmer’s Market, the Olmsted Parks, Garden Walk Buffalo, garden symposia, and new special events will be presented to garden lovers, gardening enthusiasts and culturally inclined travelers who revel in the kind of tree lined streets, Victorian architecture and locally owned shops and restaurants that are found in abundance throughout out the Buffalo region. For more information, check out its new video and website, NationalGardenFestival.com.

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by Phillip Weiss

ErieCoFairEvery year my friends and I make our way to the Hamburg Fairgrounds for the fantastic Erie County Fair. Celebrating its 170th year, America’s Fair has countless fun-filled activities, unique exhibits and eye-catching performances for all ages. The Fair is now open daily from 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and runs through August 23rd.

From the delicious food, to the one-of-a-kind arts and crafts, to a wide variety of animal houses, each day thousands of people fill the walkways of the fairgrounds. There are numerous free performances throughout each day that include music, magic, balloon creations, dancing, acrobatics and wood carving. When I was younger, my favorite was the petting zoo that has animals ranging from farm animals such as cows and rabbits to exotic animals like camels. My favorite animal performance is the pot belly pig race that I know always puts a smile on everyone’s face.

If you get hungry take a walk down the Midway and grab some tasty and appetizing food. While browsing the food stands I suggest you get a crispy and mouthwatering blooming onion and a freshly brewed lemonade, which are both the best I have ever had. Then play some carnival games or hop on one of the classic carnival rides and have fun!

So get the family ready and spend a day in the sun at the Erie County Fair. For more information, visit www.americas-fair.com

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by Matt Steinberg

ShakespeareInParkI recently attended a performance of Julius Caesar at Shakespeare in Delaware Park, which has been a summertime tradition in Buffalo since 1976. It’s one the few remaining free Shakespeare festivals in the country, and the country’s second most successful outdoor Shakespeare festival in terms of audience, attracting an average of 50,000 patrons each summer.Two masterpieces are staged each season; in addition to Julius Caesar, The Tempest was performed earlier this summer.

Situated on the appropriately name Shakespeare Hill in the Frederick Law Olmsted designed park, the performances are held Tuesdays through Sundays at 7:30pm, weather permitting. Blankets and lawn chairs are the preferred seating, accompanied by a picnic of your choosing. The grand Tudor-style stage is at the bottom of the hill, affording all spectators an excellent view, no matter where they sit. Each actor is miked, so the sound quality is excellent, allowing the Bard’s beautiful language to sing throughout the park and be clearly heard. The show I went to was crisply acted and kept me engaged throughout – each play is put on by professionals, and it shows.

Everything about Shakespeare is FREE, from the performance to the parking, and is a perfect way to spend a pleasant summer evening. For more information, check out www.shakespeareindelawarepark.org.

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by Kelsey Bradbury

blackberry-pickingThis past Saturday, in the midst of the warm and sunny weather, I grew nostalgic for one of my favorite childhood activities: berry picking.

Once a year, my parents would take my cousin and me to Greg’s U-Pick during the strawberry season. We’d sport old, oversized tee shirts that stretched to our knees, dab suntan lotion on our noses, and tote dented buckets for our yield. We’d spend a few hours picking berries with the mid afternoon sun high overhead. Every so often, I’d “sample” a berry or two from my bucket. Ripe and refreshing, the strawberries tasted like summer itself. When we’d return home after our outing, it was always in exhausted content—arms slightly sore, hands still sticky, relishing the sweet taste of sun-kissed strawberries. The bucket of berries lasted a few delicious days. The memory of these outings has lasted more than a decade.

There are a number of farms across the Buffalo-Niagara region with pick your own fruit programs:

At Awald Farms, in North Collins, NY, you can pick your own blueberries, raspberries, and pumpkins. The picking season starts in early July.

At Brown’s Berry Patch, in Waterport, NY, you can pick your own strawberries, cherries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, currants, gooseberries, elderberries, apples, and pumpkins. The picking season starts in mid June.

At Becker Farms, in Gasport, NY, you can pick fresh strawberries, raspberries, cherries, blueberries, peaches, apples, vegetables, and pumpkins. The picking season starts in early June.

At Blackman Homestead Farm, in Lockport, NY, you can pick your own apples, and pears. The picking season starts in mid September.

At Burch Farms, in Hilton, NY, you can harvest strawberries, cherries, raspberries, blueberries, currants, and gooseberries. The picking season starts in mid June.

At Greg’s U-Pick, in Clarence, NY, you can pick strawberries, blueberries, vegetables, and pumpkins. The picking season starts in mid June.

At Murphy Orchards, in Burt, NY, you can pick fresh strawberries, mulberries, cherries, currants, gooseberries, raspberries, apples, peaches, plums, pears, prunes, vegetables, and pumpkins. The picking season starts in mid June.

At Russell’s U-Pick Blueberries, in Appleton, NY, you can pick your own blueberries. The picking season starts in July.

Also in Appleton, NY, is Singer Farms, where you can pick your own cherries. The picking season starts in July.

Fruit-picking in the Buffalo-Niagara region is a great way to enjoy the warm weather, the beautiful landscapes of the countryside, and the companionship of your family. What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon?

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by Melissa Barrie

TasteofBuffaloThere are only a few warm months in Western New York, and boy do we know how to take advantage of them! Festivals, lawn fetes, carnivals and fairs can easily fill up every weekend of your summer in Buffalo. Whether you go for food, culture, or just people-watching there’s something for everyone.

Here are some of the most popular festival highlights; what are your favorite festivals?

  1. Greek Festival – the official kick-off of the summer festivals in Buffalo. Held the first weekend in June, people flock to this festival for Greek culture, entertainment, and ethnic cuisine.
  2. Allentown Art Festival – thousands of art enthusiasts attend this festival in June to enjoy the arts and crafts of different exhibitors that are available for purchase. Also enjoy the festival food and historic Allentown neighborhood as well.
  3. Juneteenth Festival – this event in June is the third-largest Juneteenth festival in the country. Celebrate African-American culture, art, dance – and enjoy the parade, ethnic food, and different family activities.
  4. Taste of Buffalo Presented by Tops– the largest two-day food festival in the country. Enjoy sample-sized portions of the cuisine offered in dozens of Buffalo-area restaurants, as well as free concerts on both days.
    July 11th-12th
  5. Sorrento Cheese Italian Heritage Festival – another ethnic festival in July that offers Italian cultural exhibits, cuisine, live entertainment, and different contests.
    July 16th-19th
  6. Erie County Fair – enjoy the midway, food, animals, free concerts, family activities and more. This year, kids 12 and under are free!
    August 12th-23rd
  7. National Buffalo Wing Festival – held the first weekend in September, over 100 different kinds of chicken wings can be sampled at this festival. Stop by for the live concerts and different contests as well.
    September 5th-6th

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