City of Superlatives
2010 City Guide
The Good Weather: With all the trash talk about blizzards, it should be noted that Buffalo has the most sunshine and the least rain of any city in the Northeast. In 2008, the last year for which results were available, we logged 167 days with at least fifty percent sunshine, which was forty-eight more than Orlando, Florida.
Stayin’ Alive: Each year since 1994, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the Buffalo Convention Center commemorates the World’s Largest Disco, the 1979 event which, with 13,000 guests, was confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest disco event of all time. These days, attendance is capped at 7,000, and tickets to the charitable event—which always features top celebrity icons of the seventies—sell out in record time.
Fair Game: Whether you call it “America’s Fair” or the Erie County Fair, this August ritual is the largest independent county fair in North America. Nearly a million guests visit the annual event, which features a half million dollars of entertainment, more than 2,500 animals, A-list concerts, motoring events, and a mile-long midway.
Food For Thought: A Taste of Buffalo is the largest two-day food festival in the country. Each year, more than sixty restaurants, six wineries, and nearly half a million people descend on downtown Buffalo to sample our city’s varied ethnic and award-winning cuisine, enjoy music and food demonstrations, and mingle.
Secret Gardens: Not only is the annual Garden Walk Buffalo the largest garden walk in the nation, but it’s entirely free and entirely run by volunteers. With more than 300 gardens in a three-square-mile area, Garden Walk has a well-deserved national reputation.
The Wright Stuff: Buffalo is home to renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s most extensive prairie style estate, the Darwin D. Martin House, five other private residences, and two newly-built Wright designs. This is one of the largest concentrations of Wright homes outside of Chicago.
Running the Show: Races are run all over the country on Thanksgiving morning, but the Buffalo Turkey Trot is the oldest continually run public footrace in the country. The 114-year-old event, which benefits the YMCA, attracts more than 10,000 runners—many wearing outrageous costumes—each year, as well as throngs of cheering onlookers.
Under the Sea: WNY is a world—yes, world—renowned scuba-diving destination. Why? Lake Erie, which is known to have more shipwrecks per square mile than any other body of water on earth. Who knew?
Ice Queen City: This year, Buffalo was again recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records when it constructed the world’s largest ice maze. At 12,855.68 square feet, it was more than one and a half times the size of the previous record holder, the Pontiac Ice Maze, which was constructed in Toronto in 2005. The maze was built for the 2010 Powder Keg Winter Festival. Buffalo had not had a winter fest in recent years because of—ironically—lack of snow.
Rite of Spring: Dyngus Day marks the end of Lent, and celebrating it is a Polish-American tradition that has reached record proportions in Buffalo. With more than thirty venues offering food, music, and general festivities this past April 5—the largest is at the Central Terminal—Buffalo marked another year of being home to the largest Dyngus Day celebration in the world.
Dancing in the Street: The Sorrento Cheese Italian Heritage Festival is the second largest Italian street festival in the country. Festival favorites include a bocce tournament, “Miss Italian Festival,” “Italian Idol” contest, cooking demonstrations, an Italian bilingual Mass, religious processions, and other events. The annual Juneteenth Festival, which seeks to preserve and promote African American heritage, is the third largest in the country.
The Play’s the Thing: Shakespeare in Delaware Park is the second largest free outdoor Shakespeare festival in the United States. Second only to New York City’s festival in Central Park, Delaware’s Shakespeare attracts approximately 50,000 audience members each summer.
Zoo Story: Founded in 1875, the Buffalo Zoo is the third oldest zoo in the United States, and WNY’s second largest tourist attraction (Niagara Falls is first).
Donna Hoke is editor of Buffalo Spree Home.