1) Canal Fest of the Tonawandas, noon to midnight July 21, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. July 22, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. July 23 on both sides of the Erie Canal. The festival is free to attend, and you can see the site map here.
Commentary: The biggest festival of the weekend straddles Tonawanda and North Tonawanda, where you can order souvlaki – beef or chicken – crafted as you wait, get powdered sugar all over your face from tackling a funnel cake or even crack into crab legs.
There's live music each night, including West of the Mark on Friday and Denzell Ward on Sunday, plus fireworks after the latter's show to signal the festival's conclusion. Read Mary Kunz Goldman's 100 Things entry on Canal Fest for more on the event.
2) Chugs for Pugs, noon to 4 p.m. July 22 at Flying Bison Brewing Company (840 Seneca St.). No cost listed.
Commentary: The dog breed identified by its wrinkly face and compact frame gets a fundraiser of its own on Saturday at Flying Bison, courtesy of Amherst-based Buffalo Pug & Small Breed Rescue.
Dogs of all kinds are welcome to the event (unless they're excessively rowdy), while Lloyd Taco Truck and Dirty Bird Chicken N' Waffles will handle the food.
3) Buffalo Metal Fest, 1 p.m. July 22 through 2 a.m. July 23 in Mohawk Place (47 E. Mohawk St.). Cost is $10 at the door, age is 18 and over.
Commentary: Twelve metal bands have been booked for an event dedicated to a music genre that flies under the radar in Buffalo. Some of the performers include Cleveland's From the Hellmouth, Edinboro, Pa.'s Obelus and Buffalo's own Nethergrave and GAWD.
Music runs from 2 p.m. to 11:55 p.m., you can find set times here, and there will be a 50-50 drawing and a guitar raffle.
4) Lackawanna Festival, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. July 21, noon to 11 p.m. July 22, 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. July 23 at Veterans Stadium (2960 South Park Ave., Lackawanna).
Commentary: There's a little of everything at the Lackawanna Festival: a craft fair, 3-vs.-3 basketball tournament, cornhole tournament, Saturday fireworks, Chiavetta's chicken barbecue and live music on all three days, capped by a performance by LeRoy Townes Band from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. See the full list of events here.
5) Grease Pole Festival, July 21 to 23 in and around Pucho Olivencia Community Center (261 Swan St.). No cost is listed.
Commentary: Tradition hasn't slowed down as the Grease Pole Festival closes in on 50 years. This year will feature Puerto Rican merengue musician Ashley La Chica Bomba, plus salsa singer Giro and Sol y Sambra, Afrikando and more.
The daunting greased pole will loom for those willing to accept the challenge – one task where there's no shame in failure, just rather uncomfortable stickiness.
6) Thunder at the Outer Harbor, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 22 and 23 at Buffalo's Outer Harbor (325 Fuhrmann Blvd.). Free to attend.
Commentary: Thunder! This two-day Outer Harbor spectacle isn't an AC/DC tribute or a celebration of Mother Nature's volatility; it's a festival predicated on boats – from vintage hydroplanes to classic wooden boats to jersey speed skiffs (which, to me, seem like bobsledding on the water).
7) Disability Pride Parade and Festival, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 22 in Coca-Cola Field (One James D. Griffin Plaza). There's no cost.
Commentary: The Western New York Independent Living Project has served the disabled across the area for almost 30 years, and their second annual Disability Pride Parade, which meets at 10:30 a.m. at South Elmwood Avenue behind City Hall, finishes with a celebration at Coca-Cola Field, where awards will be doled out for marching bands, floats and more.
8) Masten Jazz Festival, 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. July 23 (and July 30) at Buffalo Science Museum (1020 Humboldt Pkwy.). The concert is free to attend.
Commentary: The first of two chances to enjoy the Masten Jazz Festival comes Sunday, as headliner Camille Thurman, on the saxophone, and jazz trumpet player Wallace Roney and his quintet are the big out-of-town names on the slate.
Interesting fact about the latter: Roney was the only trumpet player personally mentored by Miles Davis.
9) Silo City Reading Series, 7 p.m. July 22 at Silo City: Marine A (120 Silo City Row). Free to attend.
Commentary: Mosey over to the grain elevators for readings by authors Morgan Parker – who just published "There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce" – and Rachelle Toarmino, plus music from Buffalo Afrobeat Orchestra founder Zoe Scruggs and an art installation by Zack Boehler, a vital cog in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery's public art initiative.
The News' Colin Dabkowski digs deeper into the event, shining the spotlight on Parker below.
Commentary: Foreigner lead singer Mick Jones chatted with The News' Dan Herbeck about the band's 40th anniversary tour, partying with the Beatles and welcoming Williamsville East High School chorus students on stage Friday night. Cheap Trick and the Jason Bonham Led Zeppelin Experience will kick off the show.
BONUS, No. 1: Pop-up Colombian restaurant, seating available at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. July 22 at 1526 Main St. Cost is $25 for an adult meal.
Commentary: This Colombian pop-up dinner, presented by MarCe Zerrate of Amor and Heritage, is popular enough to already sell out the first two serving times, as well as the bandaija paisa dinner option (essentially a Colombian variety plate with meats, beans, egg, plantains and more).
Fortunately, there's still room to enjoy the one-off meal, with chicken and rice (either with an arepa or two empanadas) or sancocho, a spicy stew made with chicken or beef, as available offerings. All meals include a dessert flan, and there are children's meals available.
BONUS, No. 2: Party on the Portico, featuring Tim Britt Band, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. July 21 at Buffalo History Museum (One Museum Court). Tickets are $10 general admission and $5 for members.
Commentary: The second Party on the Portico of the season closes out the week with Tim Britt, who will serenade guests hanging out on the museum steps. The featured entertainer – known also for his Muppet impersonations – is well-versed in several genres and is equipped to play his original music or covers.
Look back at Smiles and performance shots from the first party, featuring Vin DeRosa and his band Vitamin D.
BONUS, No. 3: Knox Memorial Cup, 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. July 22, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 23 at Chur Equestrian Center (Knox Road at Gypsy Lane, East Aurora).
Commentary: Live the high life with the East Aurora polo tournament and a barbecue in the evening Saturday, then stick around for a luxurious champagne brunch on Sunday.
There's a litany of ticket options – $175 weekend pass, $125 for the Sunday brunch, $75 for the Saturday twilight tournament and more. If all-you-can-drink mimosas aren't part of the brunch deal, then there's a problem.
BONUS, No. 4: Bacardi Summer Party, 10 p.m. July 21 in VENU (75 W. Chippewa St.). $5 for those on guest list, via Facebook; $10 for those 18 and over on guest list; $10 for those not on the guest list that are 21 and over; $15 for those 18 and over not on the list.
Commentary: The 18 and over party at VENU, hosted by DJ RanKan, should be a lively way to stay up late Friday night. Giveaways and drink specials, plus the venue's two floors, LED lights and CO2 effects, are additional perks.