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Marty Merkley, the Chautauqua Institution’s vice president and director of programming, is retiring after 25 years on the job. Merkley, who is credited with helping Chautauqua grow and thrive even in financially challenging times, will be stepping down at the end of September.“Chautauqua has afforded me many opportunities that I would have never imagined poss…

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The Buffalo beauty queen who caught on to Silicon Valley’s next burgeoning trend has been retired for nearly a month now. On Jan. 1, Lia Dinunzio’s tiara turned into a pumpkin or glitter or – doubtful – it simply stopped jolting the minds of people she reached for on the street. Lia’s year as the local representative of loveliness was marked by her proximity to the revolu…

Festivals

Bring out the party hats.The spotlight on Buffalo’s New Year’s Eve excitement will shine indoors as First Night Buffalo’s celebration marks its 26th family-friendly extravaganza, promising a varied lineup of activities.A far cry from what it used to be when it first began in 1988, the $100,000 event now held at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center off…

Family

"Home Alone" has no shortage of laugh-out-loud scenes, a big reason why it remains a must-watch movie for many households each holiday season. (It's also the only reason why Macaulay Culkin is part of our vernacular, but, whatever). Whether you get a hearty chuckle out of Fuller wetting the bed, the unintentionally hilarious exchanges between crooks Marv and Harry (you ma…

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Boo. Whether you're a goblin, Taylor Swift, a zombie or a nurse with dubious morals, Halloween is an appropriate time to showcase costumes, whether trendy, creepy or original. Regardless of the holiday's roots, Oct. 31 lends Western New Yorkers an excuse to be (safely) mischievous. Instead of scratching your bulbous green head (wait, do people still dress up as Shrek?) a…

Family

Since Halloween is creeping up, it's time to start embracing the weird and spooky attributes of this peculiar fall celebration. This week's 10 events in focus are united by a healthy dose of the bizarre, but differ enough to include big orange fruits, zombie-inspired costumes, pop-star relatives and guitarists in Mexican wrestling masks. Also, we made it this far without…

Family

Narrowing down the best events to attend this weekend is no easy task. Maybe you want an escape from the city bustle, so you're losing sleep over how delightful the Ellicottville Fall Festival will be. Or, you've been infected by Pegula fever, and there's nothing else on your mind other than Terry, Kim, Zubaz pants and 1 p.m. (read: 8 a.m.) Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.…

Comedy

Remember Lucille Ball’s skit where she stomped grapes in a vat while on her Italian vacation?Well the good people of Jamestown, home of the Lucy Desi Museum and Center for Comedy, want to re-create that scene, but with a lot more people and a lot more grapes, and in the process set a world record for the most people stomping grapes at one time.The record is 977. T…

Family

While Foster the People sealed the summer slate of top-notch outdoor gigs in Western New York, attractive live music options don't suddenly disappear -- they just change form. The genres of shows that dominate Artpark, Canalside and Darien Lake -- classic rock, Top 40, indie, country and hip-hop -- take a backseat, while different branches of music grab the spotlight. Thr…

Family

Summer may be all but officially over on the calendar, but September is still a great time to enjoy outdoor activities. This weekend, for example, you can bring the entire family to the 10th annual Pig-a-Palooza, from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday on the grounds of Ransomville Free Methodist Church (3924 Ransomville Road, Ransomville).The event promises plenty of fun activities for…

Family

Before summer ends, three festivals in the area are offering days to revel in peaches, boats and music.Three necessities of any good summer.This weekend hosts the Lewiston Kiwanis Peach Festival in Lewiston, Antique and Classic Boat Show and Race Boat Regatta on Grand Island and the Freedom Waters Festival at Canalside.With today’s forecast in the mid-to-high 80s an…

Festivals

The Summer of 2014 unofficially came to a close this week, and it was an eventful one. Years from now, what will you remember most? The outdoor concerts? The unhealthy food? The sculpture that combines girlhood and carnivorous marine life? Take this quiz and see how much of the season stayed with you.1. Which Canalside performer did nothing to endear himself to the crowd h…

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A year ago, after an invigorating performance for an exuberant crowd at the South Buffalo Irish Festival, Larry Kirwan, the lead singer of the popular Irish rock band Black 47, had an unusual thought:Maybe it was time to wrap it up.A year later, with the band headed back to the South Buffalo Irish Festival on Saturday near the end of its yearlong “Last Call” …

Family

Just because Labor Day weekend signals the unofficial end of summer doesn’t mean there isn’t still plenty of summer fun to be had. You have options.Winging it at the ballpark The best thing about the National Buffalo Wing Festival is the variety. Wing merchants have been reinventing Teressa Bellissimo’s classic sauce since she unveiled it 50 years ago.…