Festivalgoers brave Sunday storms at Taste of Buffalo, Canal Fest - The Buffalo News

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Festivalgoers brave Sunday storms at Taste of Buffalo, Canal Fest

For Sunday’s crowded slate of summertime events, a few hours were the difference between beauty and the beast.

The people who set out for the Taste of Buffalo or Canal Fest at about 3:30 p.m., for example, enjoyed bright sunshine and a gentle breeze – the perfect weather for scarfing down chicken wings and hand-cut french fries.

The brave few who ventured out several hours earlier, however, ran into the type of conditions better suited for ducks or frogs. The storm that blew through the region early Sunday afternoon led to widespread washouts and weaker food sales, but the hardiest natives didn’t seem to mind.

“We decided to come and enjoy ourselves, rain or shine,” said Patricia Mallon, of the Town of Tonawanda, who was eating chowder at Canal Fest with her sister, Dorothy Schaetzer of Buffalo, as they waited out a downpour.

Shortly after noon Sunday, however, there weren’t too many people who shared the sisters’ fearlessness in the face of a bad forecast, as Sweeney Street in North Tonawanda and Young Street in the City of Tonawanda were largely deserted.

Mallon and Schaetzer said they left behind their “lazy bones” husbands – that was Mallon’s term of affection – to check out the opening day of the eight-day Canal Fest.

The sisters were dining on chowder from the Nor-Ton Red Jacket Club, which supports a youth camp and has raised money through Canal Fest food sales since 1994. Club President Karl Heilemann tried to see the silver lining in the soggy weather.

“When you’re selling chicken, beef and vegetable chowder, it’s a good day for that,” Heilemann said. Asked what makes the chowder so good, he quipped, “I cannot tell you that – top secret.”

Just down Sweeney Street, Donald Kreger and Lex Eddy, members of the Niagara River Yacht Club, were waiting for the rain to let up to begin selling cannoli, cream puffs and éclairs from their tent.

Kreger said volunteering at the festival, where the yacht club has a prime site near the bandstand, is usually a lot of fun. “Except for the year they had the heavy metal,” he said.

About 10 miles to the south, in downtown Buffalo, Craig Leslie, his wife, Linda, and their kids, Owen, 6, and Gwen, 3, shared an umbrella and wore raincoats. They said even though it was raining heavily, the Taste of Buffalo was too enjoyable an event to skip.

“We’re going to just deal with it,” Craig said. “It’s Buffalo, it’s summer, it’s warm enough. What we’re trying to teach the kids is, you enjoy the weather while it’s here.”

And Owen was enjoying it, happily indulging in some strawberry gelato as he explained how much he liked the food he had tried.

Not everything went on as planned.

Cancellations included Sunday’s Bisons game, which will be rescheduled; the Budding Tree Yoga Festival, which will be held Sept. 14 instead; and the 101st annual West Side Rowing Club Invitational, which was called off midrace with only 10 out of 25 events completed.

As for today’s forecast, the National Weather Service is predicting it will be mostly sunny, with a high near 77 degrees and a slight chance of showers after noon. There’s a chance of more showers and thunderstorms tonight, with a low around 63.

News Staff Reporter Aaron Mansfield contributed to this report. email: swatson@buffnews.com

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