The Village of Lewiston has figured out what many area communities have yet to understand, and that is how to create an atmosphere where tourists will want to travel. It's an inspirational lesson.
The village's strides are impressive, especially given the competition from Niagara-on-the-Lake, across the river.
Among the ways Lewiston has accomplished this feat is by taking advantage of remodeled historic buildings along Center Street, restaurants, art galleries, boutiques and, perhaps most important, Artpark, which exposes the village to thousands of visitors every week during the summer.
Once visitors get to the village, they look around and discover a lot going on: Blues Mondays, a concert series of blues music on Monday nights; jazz on Wednesday nights and other free concerts during the summer put on by various organizations. And that's not to mention the festivals that begin when the weather starts to get better.
Lewiston is the type of village that seems to get the idea of tourism. It really is quite simple: Expose visitors to the natural richness and history and they may want to return. It doesn't hurt that the village is a beautiful and quaint place, with its perfect position, hugging the Niagara River's east bank.
Even the controversy surrounding the Whirlpool Jet Boat tours over complaints by some neighbors about noise has helped bring attention to Lewiston. Sometimes, as the saying goes, any press is good. It at least gets people onto the jet boats and into Lewiston, where the company has one of its bases.
Lewiston just has a certain feel to it. Different from East Aurora or Orchard Park, each being unique and wonderful in its own right, the village's historic buildings, talls trees, galleries and other shops create the kind of atmosphere postcards are made of.
The village has been developing over the past 15 to 20 years, and really started to turn the corner when Artpark revitalized itself several years ago. Over the past couple of years, Artpark has drawn bigger acts. Similar to Thursday at the Square in downtown Buffalo, the events are free and the money is made on concessions and drinks. It's a good formula.
Baby boomers drawn to Artpark also will be in a position to spend money in the village. Success will breed success.
The Village of Lewiston appears to be the place to be in Western New York, but it hasn't been without a lot of work as it's been sculpting its image over the past couple of decades. The hard work is paying off.