1) Polish Winterfest, noon to 5 p.m. Jan. 14 in MacKinnon Lodge in Chestnut Ridge Park (6121 Chestnut Ridge Road, Orchard Park). Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for children 12 and older. Here's a helpful map to MacKinnon Lodge.
Commentary: The local Polish-American Congress - which sounds remarkably official - hosts a family-friendly event Sunday at Chestnut Ridge. Dyngus Day may still be a few months in the future, but this winter fest touches on several of the key components of the post-Lent celebration.
Classic polka will be handled by Ludowa Nuta, while upbeat Polish tracks will be dropped by DJ Red. Traditional food and beverages will be available during the first Sunday without a Bills game in quite some time.
2) Buffalo on Tap, two sessions: 1-4 p.m. and 6:30-9:30 p.m. Jan. 13 in Buffalo Niagara Convention Center (153 Franklin St.). Tickets are $40 for general admission, $60 for limited VIP spots remaining before Session 1.
Commentary: While the evening session is mightily close to selling out, tickets remain for the 1-4 p.m. window, which would presumably allow for a late-afternoon nap (the best kind of nap) and then a clear-headed night of further activity.
Seventy-five breweries will roll out at least two beers apiece - see the full slate here - lending patrons an almost overwhelming array of craft beers to choose from.
Here are three beers I'd try (Note: I don't have an especially advanced beer palate, so don't judge): Buffalo Brewing's 1813 Porter, Genesee's dark chocolate scotch ale, and Rohrbach's vanilla porter. Hey, I'm a sucker for seasonal beers.
Commentary: Do politics have a place in comedy? Yes, but it's fortunate that not every comedian veers in that direction.
According to News contributor Mark Ciemcioch's interview with Josh Wolf, the visiting comedian's set will be largely politics-free, with material that will allow you to relax and turn your brain off.
4) Polka, Piwo and Pierogi, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 13 in the Broadway Market (999 Broadway). No cost to attend, although there is a fee for the beer tastings.
Commentary: Trust us, the Broadway Market is cool during other parts of the year than just before Easter. Saturday's event is proof, as Polish pride will be permeate the venue, with tasting of piwo - Polish for "beer" - music from the Buffalo Touch Band, hot and fresh Babcia's Pierogi (also for sale on-site), plus desserts from Chrusciki Bakery and fare from several other market vendors.
5) Tonawanda Winterfest, 7 to 10 p.m. Jan. 11 and 12, 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Jan. 13, 1:30 to 7 p.m. Jan. 14 in Lincoln Arena, DFK Pavilion and Town of Tonawanda Senior Center. Costs vary depending on the activity.
Commentary: Here's a short list of the activities slotted in the schedule of Tonawanda's Winterfest: A Friday wine tasting, a Saturday beer sampling, a one-pitch softball tournament outdoors, the rivalry Federation hockey clash between Kenmore West and Kenmore East, fireworks and a Saturday show by Strictly Hip. More on them to come, too.
6) Tricia Butski's exhibition, noon to 6 p.m. Jan. 11, noon to 8 p.m. Jan. 12 and 13 in Revolution Gallery (1419 Hertel Ave.). Free to attend.
Commentary: The News' Colin Dabkowski penned a few sentences on Butski's solo exhibition, entitled "Fathom," in print Gusto this week, but the Hertel gallery's event is worthy of an online mention, too.
Butski's work revolves around eerie charcoal portraits of humans, intended to evoke "the subconscious space between remembering and forgetting." The exhibition will be on display through Feb. 17.
7) Aircraft with M.A.G.S., 9 p.m. to midnight Jan. 12 in Lockhouse Distillery (41 Columbia St.). Admission is $5 at the door.
Commentary: Although nearby RiverWorks has quickly solidified itself as a legitimate major concert venue, Cobblestone District distillery Lockhouse has filled the niche of a "cool-if-small" spot for shows.
Friday night's two-pronged gig, featuring local bands Aircraft and M.A.G.S., is a reasonable $5, and locally produced craft spirits will be within arm's reach.
Commentary: Part 2 of the Strictly Hip's four-week residency in the Tralf homes in on the Tragically Hip's "Fully Completely," Gord Downie and co.'s third album, released in 1992.
In advance of the Hip's April 15 show at then-First Niagara Center, The News' Jeff Miers said this about the album: "It was a perfect storm of abstract poetry, ribald grooves, wide-open-vista balladry, beautifully intertwined guitar parts, the familiar and comforting, and the odd and unsettling."
With more Strictly Hip fireworks to come - capped by a re-creation of The Hip's 1992 UB Springfest set, on Jan. 26 - relish the Buffalo tribute band's treatment of their model's music.
9) Pajama Party Gay Bingo, doors open at 6 p.m., games begin at 7 on Jan. 13 at AmVets Medallion Post (25 Review Place). Cost ranges from $5 to $20 - at the door - depending on the number of boards. A full admission packet runs for $25.
Commentary: Gay Bingo has become so popular that the line forms roughly two hours before doors open. Given the venue's capacity of 415 people, that's an impressive level of devotion.
This month's theme is pajamas, enticing because I've met several adults who'd prefer to wear pajamas in everyday life but fear the societal repercussions. Participation can vary - you can be involved for as little as $5 - and an on-site kitchen bar is available for before and after the bingo games.
10) Kaydara Noodle Bar pop up in Lait Cru Brasserie, 6 p.m. Jan. 15 at 346 Connecticut St. Dishes range from $7-$11 - reservations recommended by calling Lait Cru at 462-4100.
Commentary: Although downtown Asian fusion restaurant Kaydara has been replaced by Perks Cafe on Main Street at Goodell, just north of the Theater District, Jennifer Laban and friends will continue to serve dinner around Buffalo, beginning with a pop-up meal Monday in West Side eatery Lait Cru, before they release details on their next restaurant.
Items on the one-night menu include pho with either udon or rice noodles, stir-fried udon with either chicken or tofu, and chicken curry over somen noodles. Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes are expected to be added to the offerings, too. The host restaurant will handle the dessert.