Commentary: Like most of the upper echelon of country musicians, Bentley flourishes because of his ability to work a crowd.
Sure, his music has earned him 12 Grammy award nominations but considering his Erie County Fair show from 2014, reviewed by Tim O'Shei here, Bentley swigs beer, gets sentimental and relates to the city for which he's playing.
2) Buffalo Brewfest, 5 to 9:30 p.m. Aug. 4 in Buffalo RiverWorks (359 Ganson St.). General admission is $30 ($35 day of the event) and can be purchased here, while VIP tickets – which feature reserved seating, special beer, food and more – cost $75.
Commentary: I'm running out of ways to describe craft-beer festivals. They're all essentially the same, varying only by the breweries invited and the host venues. The facts remain, though, that they're wildly popular events that reinforce how seriously craft beer is taken in Buffalo.
RiverWorks will buzz with craft-beer lovers on Friday night, as the annual Brewfest benefits the Buffalo Hearing & Speech Center. There are no frills to this – just breweries, their beer and curious tasters. The list of participants is littered with local and regional brewers.
[PHOTOS: Look back at Smiles from the 2016 Buffalo Brewfest]
3) Run716, 7:30 a.m. Aug. 6 at Flying Bison Brewing (840 Seneca St.). Cost is $65 for an individual, $105 total for a three-person relay team through the end of Aug. 4; price rises to $75/$120 on Aug. 5 and 6. Registration can be done here.
Commentary: A 15K is an unusual race length, but this sanctioned jaunt through the Hydraulic District can be done individually or in teams of three (essentially a three-leg 5K).
There's more to Run716 than just the race day, as a pre-race party on Saturday, coinciding with packet pickup, features spinning classes and live music. The post-race party on Sunday begins at 9:30 a.m. in the Larkinville brewery.
4) Thunder on the Niagara, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 5 and 6 at Gratwick Park (1100 River Road, North Tonawanda). Parking is $10 but entrance to the event is free.
Commentary: I made the AC/DC "Thunder" quip when I wrote about the similar event at the Outer Harbor, and I've found myself rather desperate for new material.
This weekend, it's the Niagara Frontier Boat Racing Association that presents Thunder, a hydroplane racing competition in the Niagara River off the shores of Gratwick Park. The two-day event is one of the premier family-friendly events for this weekend.
5) Buffalo Float 2017, 10 a.m. Aug. 6 outside Buffalo RiverWorks (359 Ganson St.). Costs range from $40 for an individual to $65 for a tandem to participate in the float, while admittance to the after-party only runs for $20. All ticket details here.
Commentary: Name one thing more relaxing than floating. (OK, let's keep it PG). But the annual Buffalo Float, held outside RiverWorks, is the perfect opportunity to spend time on the water with friends and then attempt to set a world record for longest free-float parade of kayaks and canoes (no inflatables). The existing record is one mile long of attached vessels.
Attendees are encouraged to bring their own canoe or kayak, as the cost of a rental is not included in the price to participate. A portion of the event proceeds benefits Camp Good Days.
Commentary: Despite her vault toward the top of the R&B world, Mary J. Blige hasn't had an easy path. She's suffered from depression, addiction and abuse, and recently split from her husband after a marriage of 12 years.
Her "Strength of a Woman" album, from which she's touring off at Shea's on Friday, is an immensely personal message that's also relateable. The review in the Chicago Tribune delves into the raw emotions – both of hurt and resilience – from her live show.
7) Eden Corn Festival, 5 to 11 p.m. Aug. 3, 1 p.m. to midnight Aug. 4, noon to midnight Aug. 5, noon to 10 p.m. Aug. 6 at 2912 Legion Drive, Eden.
Commentary: It's a good weekend to head to rural areas – especially north or south of Buffalo – and the Eden Corn Festival is one reason to get away. Late summer is typically the ideal time for sweet corn, which is the star of the show all weekend (but there's meat, too, just so carnivores don't rebel).
A midway, baseball and softball games, a corn hole competition, a corn husking competition (which is truly worth seeing in action, even if it pales in comparison to the blue-cheese bobbing competition at Wing Fest), craft and auto shows and much more are also on the schedule, found here.
8) Niagara Tattoo Expo, 4 to 11 p.m. Aug. 4, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Aug. 5, noon to 6 p.m. Aug. 6 at the Conference Center of Niagara Falls (101 Old Falls St., Niagara Falls). Tickets are $10 pre-sale for one day ($15 at the door) or a three-day pass for $25 ($35 at the door).
Commentary: Ink lovers will unite in Niagara Falls this weekend for a bevy of tattoo-related activities, from live tattoos (opportunity varies by vendor) to contests to the crowning of a Ms. Tattoo Niagara. The "Tattoo of the Day" will be awarded at 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, then toward the conclusion of Sunday's festivities.
The tattoo artists aren't all from Niagara and Erie counties – Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Utah, Illinois, Georgia and Arizona are all represented on the list of participants.
9) Niagara County Fair, daily beginning Aug. 2 from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., concludes from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 6. A daily pass for Wednesday to Saturday costs $5, while admission on Sunday is $3 or $10 per carload.
Commentary: The Niagara County Fair is considerably shorter than its Erie County counterpart, but it has many of the same allures. Rides, live music, 4-H competitions, an array of food, the "World of Wonders" entertainers (such as the Sword Swallowers, which are people from which I like to keep my distance) and feats of strength – like the daunting (and potentially itchy) hay bale-throwing competition.
You can find the full NCF schedule here.
10) Langford Jamboree, 3 to 11 p.m. Aug. 6 at the Langford Tractor Pull Grounds (corner of Sisson Highway and Langford Road, North Collins). Tickets are $20 at the gate.
Commentary: Langford sounds like it might be really far away, but it's actually just 10 miles south of Hamburg. The jamboree has an aggressive twang to it, as country artist Phil Vassar headlines the entertainment, while West of the Mark and Barnstorm will also take the stage.
A food tent will be open for sustenance, while a chicken barbecue begins at 5 p.m. Vassar is slated to perform at 7:30. If you find yourself really enjoying North Collins, the Langford Tractor Pull has two runnings on Sunday. Details on that here.
BONUS No. 1: Go to Bills training camp open practice, 5:30 p.m. Aug. 4 at New Era Field (One Bills Drive, Orchard Park); 2:15 p.m. Aug. 6 at St. John Fisher College (3690 East Ave., Rochester). Tickets are free but required for admission.
Commentary: As the Bills close in on their first preseason game (Aug. 10) against the Minnesota Vikings, the team has two open training camp practices to bookend this weekend.
Friday's session is a relatively unusual chance to see Tyrod Taylor and friends practice in a camp setting in Buffalo, while Sunday's matinee practice heads back to St. John Fisher College in Rochester.
BONUS No. 2: Reggae Beach Party, noon to 10 p.m. Aug. 5 at Woodlawn Beach (3580 Lake Shore Road, Blasdell). Admission is $10, plus parking is $7 at Woodlawn.
Commentary: It might be a little chilly on Saturday, but Woodlawn will still bustle with the second Reggae Beach Party of the summer. iGNiTE! Reggae Band, Black Den, Steve Oh Traxxx, DJ Maestro and more will provide the musical entertainment for the daylong event.
BONUS No. 3: WNY Vegfest, 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 6 in LaSalle Park (Porter and Amvets Drive). Free to attend the festival, which begins at 11 a.m., while the Tofurky Trot 5K, which takes off at 9:30 a.m., costs $30 for adults or $15 for children 18 and under.
Commentary: LaSalle Park on the West Side will be laden with vegetarians and vegans on Sunday, as vendors, speakers and performers will share the limelight to support their healthy, sustainable lifestyle. See the full schedule here.