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You don't have to ask John Strates to imagine what would have happened at the Erie County Fair if the tornado that took down 50 trees and caused up to $3 million damage to the fairgrounds blew through just three weeks later, after the fair opened. "You can just look at the Labor Day storm of the New York State Fair. You can take it from that. Your answer is right there,…

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Summer is flying by, so don't miss out on the many free activities in the area. Here's a guide to a free family-friendly event for every day in August. Aug. 1  Movies at Canalside. Enjoy a family movie outdoors. Lawn chairs and picnics are welcome; concessions will be available. This week's movie, starting at about 8:30 p.m., is the adorable feature "Trolls." Aug.…

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Lucille Ball had a dream. She envisioned a festival of contemporary comedy being held in her name. But the madcap heroine of "I Love Lucy" might not have imagined the scope of the annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, held annually since 1996 in Jamestown, where she was born on Aug. 6, 1911. The festival centers on the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum, home to tons of "…

Festivals

1) Buffalo Ribfest, 3 to 10 p.m. July 28, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. July 29 and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 30 at Canalside (44 Prime St.). General admission tickets are $15, while a VIP passes run for $45. Commentary: It's not wrong to go just for the smell. Unlike locavore events such as Taste of Buffalo, the purpose of Ribfest is to expose Buffalonians to esteemed barbecue vendo…

The 8th annual Glen Park Art Festival will be held Saturday and Sunday in Williamsville, on Glen Avenue, behind Glen Park and the Williamsville Water Mill. Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. The event includes live street performers and music. Over 140 vendors and artists will display their works at this year’s festival. A pre-festival concert from Serendip…

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It might be easy to look at his life in the last year and assume it’s been an easy road for Christian rocker Zach Williams. He released his debut single, “Chain Breaker,” in the fall and the song went to No. 1 on the Christian charts and earned a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song. Not a bad way to launch a solo career. But behind t…

At one point during this busy concert season, Lancaster's Carnival Kids Steel Orchestra performed 12 shows in 12 days, said longtime music teacher Ken Kowalski. The orchestra, an extra-curricular organization for Lancaster middle and high school students, is heading for one of its biggest performances of the summer. "Seniors Send-Off" will bid farewell to band membe…

“The Gathering of the Drums: Indigenous Drum Festival,” a free event, is planned for 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday, July 29 at the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center, 1201 Pine Ave., Niagara Falls. Performers include Frankie McNaughton, Carl Jamieson, the African American Cultural Center, Monte Jones, Strong Water Women, SlyBoots’ Mohamed Diaby and his ensemble, Manding Foli Kan D…

Don't expect to see amusement rides at Lackawanna Festival unfolding this weekend at Veteran's Stadium, 2960 South Park Ave. Instead, the festival kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday with back-to back softball tournaments, continues from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday with a three-on-three basketball tourney and winds down Sunday on bicycles with a 10-mile ride through the Steel Cit…

Art

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, …

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The CMC Jazzfest is a great opportunity to visit the historic Colored Musicians Club, a place that, though founded in 1917, remains one of our town's better-kept secrets. Even Walter Kemp, the CMC's artist director, didn't learn about the club until after he came home from college. "I was a musician who was really interested in music and jazz, and went away to school, a…

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The Colored Musicians Club has shone over the decades with bright spirits. Here are a few of the departed: Pianist Al Tinney led combos in New York, where he gave Charlie Parker his first job. The late drummer Max Roach gave him credit for being one of the creators of bebop. As a boy, Tinney worked with George Gershwin, helping rehearse "Porgy and Bess" for Broadw…

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The Colored Musicians Club turns 100 this year. And its going to roll up the rugs and hold a party. Make that a weeklong jazz party, all around the town. It's called the CMC Jazzfest. From July 24 to July 29, a total of 150 performers will be seen gigging around the city. Some events take place at the club, located at 145 Broadway, at the corner of Michigan Street. O…

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In a month that has seen the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center host packed houses for the likes of Chicago, Nickelback, Foreigner and the Vans Warped Tour, a distinctly different vibe is planned to take over the 20,000-seat outdoor venue from July 26 to 29. The annual Christian music festival Kingdom Bound returns for its 31st year with more than 40 musical acts, speakers…

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Onlookers for the Canal Fest of the Tonawandas parade sometimes start staking out their spots along the parade route as early as 3 or 4 a.m., said parade co-chairman Rob Grehlinger. "When I arrive at 8 a.m. there's already people all over the place. There are already chairs set along the parade route. Some people have rugs and tape to tape off an area," said Grehlinger.…