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The 10: Irish Festival, Steampunk Festival, PolkaFest

1) Buffalo Irish Festival, 4 to 11 p.m. Aug. 25, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Aug. 26, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Aug. 27 at Buffalo's Outer Harbor (325 Fuhrmann Blvd.). General admission for one day is $10, while a weekend pass runs for $20. Complete ticket details here.

Commentary: Scoot over to the Outer Harbor for one of the final cultural festivals of the summer, as the annual Buffalo Irish Festival boasts two stages of music - include performances by Dervish, Enter the Haggis and locals Crikwater and Penny Whiskey - as well as a slew of food and craft vendors, a raffle to win two tickets for a trip to Ireland and multiple performances by Irish dance schools like Rince na Tiarna and Clann Na Cara. (That's one really long sentence!)

Look back at an extensive Smiles gallery from last year's Irish Festival, also held at the Outer Harbor.


2) Steampunk Festival, 5 to 10 p.m. Aug. 26 at Leonard Oakes Estate Winery (10609 Ridge Road, Medina). General admission is $12, while admission plus two drink tickets costs $20. Ticket details here.

Commentary: The annual festival at Leonard Oakes is one of the most off-beat, visually stimulating events of the summer. (News Food Editor Andrew Galarneau would suggest that you eat at the taco trailer Monte Alban before you attend, since it's not every day you're in Medina. Thank him later).

The premise of Steampunk hearkens to a branch of science fiction that blends together vintage design and fashion with an odd modern twist. It's easier just to look through pictures than it is to tolerate me stumbling through this description.

Enjoy a few helpings of Steampunk Cider - or the award-winning ice wine - and marvel at some intense costumes.


3) PolkaFest, featuring Those Idiots, 1 to 11 p.m. Aug. 26 in Buffalo RiverWorks (359 Ganson St.). Free to attend.

Commentary: No, you haven't time traveled to April for Dyngus Day (although I doubt many would complain if Buffalo celebrated Dyngus Day twice each year, although livers might rebel en masse).

Local polka stars Those Idiots keep popping up more and more outside of their peak time, and the peppy party band will perform at the free Polish-focused event in RiverWorks. Other pillars of Buffalo's Polish pride will feature, including local craft vendors, Potts Deli and an enthralling pierogi-eating contest.

Those Idiots perform at the Central Terminal in April 2017. (Matt Weinberg/Special to The News)


4) Ashanti & Ja Rule, 5 to 10 p.m. Aug. 26 at Canalside (44 Prime St.). Tickets are $45 and may be purchased here.

Commentary: Aside from Kerfuffle and Kiss the Summer Hello, there have been few non-Thursday shows at Canalside this summer. Saturday brings a good one, however, especially for fans of '90s hip-hop.

Ashanti and Ja Rule create waves of nostalgia for their collaborations on "Always on Time," "Mesmerize" and more, but their 2016 joint effort "Helpless," a song on the soundtrack for the Broadway musical "Hamilton," is worth your four minutes. Lil Mo and Jagged Edge are the two other openers, and a WBLK lip-sync battle precedes the headliners, who will perform together.


5) John Mayer, 7 p.m. Aug. 27 in Darien Lake Performing Arts Center (9993 Allegheny Road, Darien). Tickets start at $27 and may be purchased here.

Commentary: The singer-songwriter has kept a low celebrity profile since a wild run in the tabloids, but his consistent quality of music cements him in the limelight. Mayer's stop in Darien is a continuation of his "The Search for Everything" tour, based off an album by the same name. The April 2017 released peaked at No. 2 on


6) Luke Bryan, 7 p.m. Aug. 25 in Darien Lake Performing Arts Center (9993 Allegheny Road, Darien). Limited tickets remain - prices begin at $79; details here.

Commentary: Bryan is on the short list for biggest name in mainstream country music right now - perhaps Sam Hunt is in the running, too - and there's a reason his late-summer show in Darien is close to a sellout.

Although the message from his music doesn't necessarily separate him from his peers - his Aug. 23 single "Light It Up" is about as millennial-geared as you can get - he's been hardened by personal tragedies, as both his older brother and sister died unexpectedly at different points of his life, which lends credence to his more heartfelt songs.

Here's the crowd at his 2015 visit to Darien.

Smiles at Luke Bryan's 2015 show at Darien Lake. (Don Nieman/Special to The News)


7) Chillounge Night, 5:30 to 11 p.m. Aug. 25 at the ruins near Buffalo RiverWorks (359 Ganson St.). Tickets are $30 in advance or $40 at the gate, while VIP passes run for $80 and $100, respectively. Packages run up to $1,200 for a private section for six.

Commentary: A concept that's gained steam nationally has elevated (chilled?) Buffalo's expectations before the event's Friday debut. The ruins outside Buffalo RiverWorks, which now house a brewery and beer garden, will welcome expensive furniture and decoration, courtesy of Tim Mitten's Full Moon Promotions.

A wealth of entertainment, including samba dancers from Orlanda, Fla., musicians local and national, roving photographers, a fashion show and an emcee appearance from KISS 98.5 FM's DJ Anthony, rounds out the experience.


8) Carnival of Parahorror, 5 to 9 p.m. Aug. 25, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 26, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 27 in the Buffalo Central Terminal (495 Paderewski Dr.). Cost is $10 in advance here, or $15 at the door. Ghost tours and specialty talks are an additional cost.

Commentary: Whet your appetite for the Halloween season as Parahorror, presented by Beyond Ghosts, returns to the spooky Central Terminal for three days of fan-based programming. The festival prods deeply into an unnerving realm, highlighting macabre decor, haunting stories, short films, celebrities, speakers and creepy products from local vendors.

Just look at this unsettling soap, then look back at the Parahorror Smiles gallery from 2016.


9) Buffalo Funk Fest, 6 to 10 p.m. Aug. 25 on Jefferson Avenue between Utica and Glenwood, then 2 to 10 p.m. Aug. 26 in LaSalle Park. The Jefferson Avenue Arts Festival, which also runs this weekend, will be between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Aug. 26.

Commentary: The legacy of funk/R&B/soul artist Rick James is already profound in Buffalo, as the troubled but decorated musician is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in North Buffalo.

A music festival in his memory runs on Saturday, with the Mary Jane Girls - who were assembled as James' own touring performers - playing a slot. Buffalo Rising lets you know how big of a deal it is that lead singer and Buffalo native JoJo McDuffie-Funderburg will perform in her hometown for the first time in three decades.


10) Buffalo Niagara Reptile Expo, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 27 at Adam's Mark Hotel (120 Church St.). Cost is $8 cash for adults, $4 for ages 6-12 and service workers, children age 5 and under are free with an adult.

Commentary: Call it a lapse in my early education or my faulty long-term memory, but I have a hard time differentiating reptiles from amphibians. It just makes me think of the late Charles Shackleford's infamous quote. Anyhow, the names of the vendors attending Sunday's show are alluring: take Crazy House Chameleons, Dachiu Bearded Dragons and Nocturnal Mutants, for example.

The Smiles gallery from 2016 gives you a good idea for what to expect. Here is a snake.

It is unclear if this snake is smiling or not, but nevertheless it is in the Buffalo Niagara Reptile Expo Smiles gallery from 2016. (Nancy J. Parisi/Special to The News)


BONUS NO. 1: Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 26, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 27 on Elmwood Avenue between West Ferry and St. James. Free to attend.

BONUS No. 2: Green Day, 7 p.m. Aug. 26 in Darien Lake Performing Arts Center (9993 Allegheny Road, Darien). Lawn tickets begin at $31 and can be purchased here.

BONUS No. 3: Lil' Jon, 9 p.m. Aug. 25 at VENU (75 W. Chippewa St.). Tickets are $30 and may be purchased here.

BONUS No. 4: Rotary Duck Derby, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Aug. 27 at Canalside (44 Prime St.). Free to attend, although to enter a duck into the derby, it's $5 for one, $25 for six and $50 for 12 and $100 for 25.

BONUS No. 5: Country Stampede, noon to 10 p.m. Aug. 26 in Veterans Memorial Community Park (7000 Lockport Road, Niagara Falls). Free to attend.

BONUS No. 6: EXPO Big Blues and Barbecue, 3 p.m. Aug. 26 in EXPO (617 Main St., Suite 200). Free to attend.









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