1) Buffalo Niagara Brewers Invitational, 3 to 6 p.m. Feb. 17 in New York Beer Project (6933 S. Transit Road, Lockport). General admission is $45 and may be purchased here, while designated driver tickets run for $10.
Commentary: Craft-beer fanatics will be thrilled with the return of the BN Brewers Invitational, which brings together dozens of rare and one-off locally produced beers for sampling at one event.
Judging by the list of featured beers, India Pale Ales (IPAs) and double IPAs are the most abundant, but a Southern Tier cherry gose and Woodock's Lake Town brown ale provide a slightly different flair. Buffalo Beer League members get an extra hour of sampling, starting at 2 p.m., with paid admission.
2) Guinness Toast, 6 p.m. Feb. 16 in the Buffalo Irish Center (245 Abbott Road). Tickets are $10 in advance at the Irish Center pub, $12 at the door.
Commentary: The Buffalo Irish Center has fallen on hard times due to a major theft of money and artwork, so patronizing this long-serving South Buffalo establishment would be a good deed over the next month and a half.
One opportunity arrives Friday for the annual Guinness Toast, at which 13 different bands will perform, including Penny Whiskey, Poor Ould Goat, Crikwater, the Buffalo Bagpipe Band and more. Look back at Smiles and a few performance shots, at the gallery to the right, from last year's event.
Commentary: Throw back to one of New York City's elite (and perhaps elitist) celebrity nightclubs that had its heyday in the late 1960s - you know, the Disco Era - at Studio 54, a fundraising event by Unconditionally Buffalo to benefit the John R. Oishei Women's and Children's Hospital. Disco attire is strongly encouraged.
4) Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament, 7 to 10:30 p.m. Feb. 15 and 16, 1 to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 17 and noon to 8 p.m. Feb. 18 in Buffalo RiverWorks (359 Ganson St.). Free to attend as a spectator.
Commentary: The 2018 Labatt Pond Hockey Tournament began in earnest last Sunday, with the novice and amateur divisions rolling through a jam-packed day of action.
Organizers have saved the best for this weekend, however, as over-21, over-30, over-40 and over-50 divisions - plus the Elite Division - will play a more spaced-out string of games. For me, the annual competition for best (family-friendly) team name comes down to two: 7 Angry Men and Moves Like Jagr.
Peek back at the Smiles from Sunday, plus see shots of the action and atmosphere to the right.
5) Central Park Grill's first anniversary party, 7 p.m. Feb. 17 at 2519 Main St. Free to attend.
Commentary: For a bar that's been open since the late 1920s, it's weird to see Central Park Grill celebrating a first anniversary. But, as Buffalo Rising noted in March of 2017, former bouncer Danny Gugino and general manager Justin Pitts purchased the no-frills, comfortable dive bar just last winter.
Live music from the Zack Morris Experience and Throttle 8 will be the entertainment at the anniversary party on Saturday.
6) Wings of Hope chili cook-off, 1 to 5 p.m. Feb. 17 in Flying Bison (840 Seneca St.). $10 for a wristband for all-you-can-taste chili. Donations to Wings of Hope are welcome.
Commentary: Sometimes you learn through experience why it's wise to eliminate certain award categories. For instance, at last year's Flying Bison's Wings of Hope chili cook-off, the forays toward "Hottest Chili" were so scorching that they affected the tastings in the other categories (Best in Show, Most Creative and Judges' Choice).
With the quest for the hottest no longer a goal this year, anticipate an abundance of flavorful entries (the deadline to submit a chili was Feb. 10 - sorry). All proceeds benefit Wings of Hope, a not-for-profit flight service for medical and humanitarian initiatives.
Commentary: With the Shamrock Run and St. Patrick's Day one flip of the calendar away, Buffalo Iron Works whets the palate with two solid Celtic bands booked for Saturday. It's tough to top a band name like Enter the Haggis, primarily because it sounds intimidating until you realize that it's a dish of sheep innards dear to Scotland.
McCarthyizm kicked off January with a gig at Sportsmen's Tavern, but expect a more impressive turnout for this two-pronged show. Come early for the Irish dancers from the local Rince Na Tiarna company, too.
8) Caribbean Winter Carnival Ball, 7 p.m. to midnight Feb. 17 at 1064 Brighton Road, Tonawanda. Tickets are a $35 donation to the Buffalo Caribbean American Association.
Commentary: Support the Buffalo Caribbean American Association at their winter ball; music from Caribbean Extravaganza and DJ Papa Trini, plus a 50-50 split and complimentary rum punch enliven the night. 1064 Brighton is the Protestant Episcopal Diocese.
9) "We Wanted a Revolution," 7 to 9 p.m. Feb. 16 in Albright-Knox Art Gallery (1285 Elmwood Ave.). Free to attend.
Commentary: Scoot over to the Albright-Knox on Friday night for a free opening of "We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-1985," a production of the Brooklyn Museum that delves into the political, social, cultural priorities of black women over a span of two decades. Author, artist, illustrator Dindga McCannon will deliver a free Voices in Contemporary Art talk at 7:15 p.m. in the auditorium.
10) Before We Were Cool: Dance Yrself Clean Prom, 10 p.m. Feb. 17 at Milkie's on Elmwood (522 Elmwood Ave.).
Commentary: The Dance Yrself Clean posse will mix in slow jams Saturday to fit in with the Valentine's prom-style theme, as attendees are encouraged to dress up.
The Facebook event page teases up-tempo tracks from Kendrick Lamar, LCD Soundsystem, Phoenix, Kanye West and M83, then plans to scale back with The National and Beach House. If you missed Sugar City Soul Night last weekend, Saturday at the same spot can compensate.
BONUS: Winter Toy and Train Show, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 17, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 18 at the Hamburg Fairgrounds Event Center (5820 South Park Ave., Hamburg). Admission is $8 at the door for adults, while children ages 12 and under get in for free.
Commentary: The Western New York Railroad Historical Society throws a weekend-long event in Hamburg, featuring toy trains, collectibles and railroadiana, which is essentially railroad artifacts from around the world. Not only will it draw aggressive collectors, it's a marquee family event amplified by the free admission for kids.
BONUS 2: Souped Up 2.0, 3 to 6 p.m. Feb. 17 in EXPO Market (617 Main St.). Cost is $2 per sample, with 12 different soups to try.
Commentary: Last year's inaugural Souped Up - from which you can see Smiles here - was successful enough to prompt a return. The event challenges all of EXPO Market's vendors, plus Grant Street's the Gypsy Parlor, to showcase two different soups.
Tullamore Dew tastings by GBGB, a tap takeover by Hamburg Brewing and a chance to explore the spacious market are other reasons to attend.