It's the ultimate festival weekend in Buffalo.
Other than the sold-out Eagles show on Saturday, major local festivals hog the spotlight. An exceptional variety of food, beer and art-based gatherings -- from the charming wilderness of East Aurora's outskirts to pizza-scented Hertel Avenue -- has us feeling a little dazed, as if we just played dizzy-bat on an airplane.
Bad -- and frankly, painful -- metaphors aside, let's move on to The 10:
1) Galbani Buffalo Italian Festival, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday, blocking off Hertel Avenue between Delaware Avenue and Colvin Avenue. No cost for admission.
Commentary: Somehow, the festival has already announced its 2015 "Best of Festival" winners -- they must have really made an impression on Day 1 -- with Mister Pizza's triumph as "Best Pizza" a staggering upset (Campi's Pizza from Dunkirk is historically a festival favorite). Despite my strong urge to debate pizza instead of preview the event, spend a few minutes reading Mark Sommer's article about the changing Hertel neighborhood. It's becoming less and less of a Little Italy.
2) Queen of Heaven Carnival, 6 to midnight Friday, noon to midnight Saturday and noon to 10 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.
Commentary: For families, the rides and carnival atmosphere are draws, but for many Queen of Heaven attendees, the beer tent is seen as absolutely legendary. I don't know if it's the affordable beer, collection of people or the entertainment -- Hit 'N' Run and The Strictly Hip are real nice local bookings -- but you can expect a raucous evening in West Seneca.
3) City of Night, 6 to midnight Saturday in the Old First Ward, Old First Ward Community Center and surrounding outdoor locations (see a map below). Free to attend and explore.
Commentary: The summer art festival drew over 12,000 people to Silo City last year, but in order to share the artistic joy of the event, it's been moved to the Old First Ward, as Colin Dabkowski explains here.
Still organized by Emerging Leaders in the Arts Buffalo (ELAB), City of Night is no stranger to avant-garde art displays and the added elements of music (Rhythm Peddler of Rogues Hollow, Cove EVIII Posse, Bourbon and Coffee, among others) and food and drink. Plus, there's a bike valet. Although light displays on shadowy grain elevators is a thing of the past, Saturday in the Old First Ward still could be pretty cool.
4) Hamburg Burger Fest, 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, Main and Buffalo streets in Hamburg, Village of Hamburg Municipal building parking lot. It's free to attend.
Commentary: Beyond what eloquent Mike Farrell scrawled in his first few paragraphs of his Four Shows article, there's not a whole lot more that I can say about this fest of burgers. Here's the schedule of events and food vendors, and the Labatt Beer Tent will serve...beer. Four hours of Breakaway, a popular local cover band, caps off the evening.
5) Spring Garden Association's Waldfest, 2 to 9 p.m. Sunday at 3838 Two Rod Road, East Aurora. $8 in advance, $14 at the gate.
Commentary: Waldfest is a German-American party that likes to lay low; it's often accidentally left off major event calendars, but it always draws very well (and proves that most of Western New York owns lederhosen?). Increased exposure through Moor Pat and Coles' bus trips -- which sold out remarkably fast -- may have dented the event's relative secrecy, and now we think we're guilty as well. [Look at this photo gallery from last year. Man.]
6) Tommyrotter Distillery opening, noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, 500 Seneca St., Suite 100. Free to attend, and there will be free samples!
Commentary: It may lag behind craft breweries in terms of abundance, but the distillery scene in Buffalo is growing by the day. On Saturday, meet the owners of Tommyrotter (named after rebellious artisans in the early 1900s), a small-batch distillery that will have bottles of gin and vodka for sale. The event is quite popular on Facebook.
7) FC Buffalo vs. AFC Cleveland, 7 p.m. Friday at Robert E. Rich All-High Stadium (2885 Main St.). $8 general admission, purchased at the door.
Commentary: The local NPSL club faces its biggest match in two years on Friday, as a win in the season finale cements the club's second playoff berth in its six-year history. If the Wolves draw against AFC Cleveland -- like they did in their June visit to Ohio -- FC Buffalo will need some help from other teams in its region. Star defender Kendell McFayden, who played for Williamsville North, Medaille College and the Rochester Rhinos, was just named as the league's player of the week. It should be an exciting, if tense, evening of soccer.
Commentary: News Arts Editor Jeff Simon handed the movie 3.5 stars out of 4, and spent most of his review lauding Schumer's performance, calling her a "first-rate comedy screenwriter" and a "not too shabby all-around actress." While rated R and not child-friendly, you could do worse for a laugh this weekend. Plus, LeBron James takes his talents to the big screen, again (the most overwritten LBJ joke in the book!).
Commentary: Music is central to this event: Drea N'dur, who just performed at Canalside on Thursday, The Tins, The Rockaz, Pulse, and my personal favorite band name from the bill, Crespo with Death Picnic, are all on the schedule. The peripheral activities -- a dunk contest, b-boy battle and life-size Foosball -- also sound wild, and perhaps woolly.
10) Tiny Rhymes or State Champs, the former is at 8 p.m. Saturday in Pausa Art House (18 Wadsworth St.), and the cost is $7 ($5 for students). State Champs play at 6 p.m. Sunday in Waiting Room, for $13 in advance or $15 at the door.
Commentary: Tiny Rhymes' name keeps popping up more and more locally -- read Mac McGuire's show preview -- while Kris Kielich previewed critically acclaimed State Champs, an Albany-based pop-punk band. In case you had a hankering for music, The 10 didn't want to let you down (all right, most of the events have a musical component, but we like to pretend to be thoughtful and generous).
*The Eagles' First Niagara Center show would have obviously made The 10, but it has sold out and there's nothing actionable about it. Why tell you about an event and then say you can't go to it? It's like dangling a glazed carrot in front of you and cruelly yanking it away.
Email Ben Tsujimoto, who may audition as a trombonist for Death Picnic, at firstname.lastname@example.org