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Falling Leaves Festival features cultural artistry of Native Roots

The city's 34th annual Falling Leaves Festival opens at 5 p.m. today with an added attraction, as the Native Roots Artist Guild brings the rich culture for which Native American artists are known.

The festival runs through Sunday.

The Native American artists will show traditional and contemporary arts and crafts, including interpretations of ancient potters, hand carvings and beadwork rich with the symbolism from native stories and legends.

Local artist Carson Waterman said, "The opportunity to share our culture at the festival gives us the chance to promote ourselves as talented artists, as well as educate the public about our unique culture."

Jenny Ingrao of the Salamanca Area Chamber of Commerce, festival coordinator, said, "We are proud to have the Native Roots Arts Guild at the festival.

"In addition to the guild, there will be Seneca storytellers, dancers, cultural demonstrations, Seneca food and more.

"We are in a community full of rich culture and heritage and can't wait to share its hidden treasures," she said.

A special cultural presentation by Terry Jones will feature a screening of his videos, including works on Seneca foods, followed by food tastings at noon Saturday and Sunday.

In addition to the dozen or more Seneca artists, the festival will offer a variety of food and craft vendors, carnival rides and games, a 5K walk/run, car show, petting zoo, pony rides and bed races.

A highlight will be a 40-unit parade at 1 p.m. Sunday down Main Street to Route 417.

Eating contests feature doughnuts and hot dogs, and there also will be hula hooping contests.

Most of the festival activities center on Jefferson Park.

The carnival will set up each day on Sycamore Avenue, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, the car show will be on Main Street.

Live music from the gazebo in the park will be featured from 7 to 9 p.m. tonight, 3:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday, and 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Festival visitors also will be able to view the early changing fall foliage along the Allegany River, which flows through the city.

For a complete list of events, visit: www.SalamancaChamber.org.