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A new batch of festivals

Last year's Polish Festival

kc kratt

Remember that old song from Sesame Street, “One of these things is not like the other?” Well, see if you can figure out which of the festivals taking place next week in Western New York might be a little different from the other three. Good news: They are all multi-day affairs, so you won’t have to flip a coin to choose which one to attend.


Canalfest, July 13-20

Canal Fest of the Tonawandas is spread out over two square miles along the Erie Canal.  There is too much stuff going on at Canal Fest to list here, so head on over to the website so you can plan your day. Or days. Seriously, the list includes a golf tournament, 25 bands and performers, a pageant, a four-mile run, a chalk contest, and more than 50 tents to visit—including a score of food vendors offering everything from fried dough to muffuletta sandwiches to clams. Oh, and a beer tent. The celebration officially kicks off at noon this Sunday and the party does not stop until the last firework ember winks out in the sky above the canal the following Sunday night.


Polish-American Arts Festival: July 17-20

You may not have noticed, but there are a few people of Polish descent living in Buffalo. It's not surprising that there is a Polish festival—or 30—in and around the city. The 36th Annual Polish American Festival, held at Cheektowaga Town Park on Harlem Road, begins at 7 p.m. on July 17 with a concert by the Cheektowaga Community Symphony Orchestra, with food available from the kids in the Youth Involved in Service (YES) program.  (Nowack Catering and Polish Villa II will be offering a variety of Polish food  all three days.) Friday means all Polka, all the time, including more than 5 hours of can’t-stand-still music. For those in a more pensive mood, there will be a mass followed by a choir at 4:30 on Saturday, with the bands striking up again for the evening at 5:30 and, yes, more Polish music all day Sunday. A highlight for many is the General Pulaski Parade, starting at 1:30 pm on Sunday at the Thruway Mall, heading down North Harlem, and winding up back at the park. Visit the website for more info.


Buffalo Italian Festival: July 17-20

This year, the nation’s second largest Italian street festival celebrates its 26th anniversary on Hertel Avenue in North Buffalo’s Little Italy. Triple Deuces Entertainment has some great talent lined up. Headliners are Poperazzi (Italian rock opera from Las Vegas), Big City Horns, and Hit-n-Run, as well as a variety of acts like “Italian Idol,” Dancing Under the Stars, and Robert Nash “the Dinero guy.” Open 11 am to 10 pm nightly, activities abound throughout the festival, including a bocce tournament, tons of food (obvs) cultural demonstrations, grape stomping contests, kids activities, Miss Italian Festival, and a Sicilian puppet show. Don’t miss the cooking stage where Chef Mike Obarka from Ristorante Lombardo, Chef Marco from Marco’s Italian Restaurant, and Mike Dimmer from Black Market Food Truck will show off their skills. Visit the website for more information.


Grease Pole Festival (El Palo Encebao): July 18-20

Brought to you by Pucho’s Social Club from the Augustine “Pucho” Olivencia Community Center at 261 Swann Street, this festival’s main event is the grease pole, which is pretty much exactly like it sounds. Telephone poles are slathered in grease and team members scramble over each other to reach to the top and snag prizes dangling there. (My inner OCD girl is feverishly washing her hands with Dawn detergent at the thought of it.) But it’s not all about the pole, my friends. This is a full-on Hispanic festival with all the accompanying amazing food, music, dancing, and singing. The kick-off party starts Friday at 5 pm. Saturday afternoon is Kids Activities time, with salsa and bachata bands starting at 5. The main event starts at 5 pm (sharp!) on Sunday, with more partying to follow until 11 pm. Maybe it’s not so different, after all. See their Facebook page for the full listing of events.


Wendy Guild Swearingen is a frequent contributor to Buffalo Spree.

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