1) Taste of Buffalo, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. July 7, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 8 in Niagara Square and north up Delaware Avenue. Free to attend, while food tickets (50 cents apiece, sold in sheets) may be purchased at several locations on site.
Commentary: Roughly 500,000 people will take in the Taste of Buffalo this weekend, as Niagara Square and Delaware Avenue – now as far north as Johnson Park – will be flooded with curious eaters eyeing up sample-sized portions from more than 50 local vendors.
The News' Andrew Galarneau laid out his own three rules for attacking the festival, while also pointing to five different vendors he'd pounce on (not literally, although he does have a strong affinity for the SEAR lobster mac).
2) Jam in the Valley, 3 to 11:30 p.m. July 5; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. July 6; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. July 7 in Buffalo Hill Village, 1629 Route 20A, Varysburg. A wealth of ticket-buying options, including camp sites and individual shows, can be seen here.
Commentary: Camp out at Buffalo Hill Village for the annual country music festival, headlined by Drake White (Thursday), Billy Currington (Friday), Cole Swindell and Brett Young on Saturday. Hanging out in Varysburg is a summer ritual for many; JitV is circled on calendars as soon as tickets go on sale.
3) Queen of Heaven Carnival, 5 p.m. to midnight July 6, noon to midnight July 7, noon to 9 p.m. July 8 on Seneca Street at Mill Road, West Seneca. Free to attend, and parking is free.
Commentary: Those familiar with the carnival know that QoH offers one of the most lively beer tents of the summer festival season. Sure, there are carnival rides and food, but cover bands Breakaway (Friday) and Hit-N-Run (Saturday) will draw the biggest crowds.
New for 2018 is the pop-up craft beer garden, featuring Leinenkugel's summer shandy, Roots from Hamburg Brewing and options from Otter Creek and Ballast Point, among others, for $5 per 12-ounce cup, and an IPA from Woodcock Brothers running for $7 for 16 ounces.
4) 11-Day Power Play kicks off, 5 p.m. July 5 through 6 p.m. July 15 at HarborCenter (100 Washington St.). Free to attend any of the games, and volunteer, sponsorship and more opportunities remain. Participation details here, and find a full schedule of events here.
Commentary: The story of Mike and Amy Lesakowski and how their family has been affected by cancer is one now known to many Buffalonians after the family's event, the 11-Day Power Play, set the Guinness Book of World Records mark for longest consecutive hockey game last year, raising $1.2 million in the process.
Another group of teams, numbering between 11 and 15 players, has signed up in four-hour time slots, with the only requirement at least $5,000 in funds raised. There's live music in HarborCenter many of the nights, including Friday and Saturday of the first weekend.
5) Vanilla Ice, 5 to 10:30 p.m. July 7 at Canalside (44 Prime St.). General admission cost is $5 (VIP is $35 here), but if you buy from a Consumer's Beverages location, the ticket comes with one free drink. It's worth reading about what life is like in the Canalside beer tent, which The News' Keith McShea explained aptly here.
Commentary: Honest question: Is Vanilla Ice's star power more due to his once-high-powered rap career – "Ice, Ice, Baby" for the unacquainted – or for his recent forays into HGTV shows? (We never thought we'd see a video titled "Vanilla Ice Goes Amish," yet here we are).
Slight jokes aside, Robert Van Winkle has built his brand, and unlike many of his contemporaries, is doing well to keep himself in the spotlight. Although a large section of fans pointed to Father John Misty as the pinnacle of the Canalside Live! season, Vanilla Ice was the flashiest name for many. Note: This gig represents the first of two Canalside Live! shows that fall on Saturdays.
6) Market at Graycliff Estate opens, 4 to 8 p.m. July 6 at 6472 Old Lake Shore Road, Derby. Free to attend.
Commentary: First off, Friday is supposed to be blessed with beautiful weather. Secondly, we've written at length about the grandeur and architectural wonder of the Frank Lloyd Wright-built Graycliff Estate (here, here and Closer Look photos here).
There are few better ways to experience the Graycliff than browsing a litany of vendors, from those specializing in beach glass and soy soap to desserts, produce and creamery products. Find the full list for opening day here. Additionally, on-site tours for Friday may be reserved here, while the gardens and renovations are free to explore.
7) Buffalo BookFest, noon to 5 p.m. July 7 at WNY Book Arts Center (468 Washington St.). Free to attend.
Commentary: The Western New York Book Arts Center takes advantage of a busy day in downtown Buffalo by hosting its annual BookFest, with a steamroller converted into a printing press (impressive, pun intended), as well as an artists and vendor market, screen printing for T-shirts for $5, bookmaking demos and a slew of activities worth a peek.
Commentary: According to the show preview on Town Ballroom's site, Lanez's fans are dubbed SwaveNation and considered a "society without borders." If that's not inclusive, I do not know what is.
Toronto-born Lanez has already received recognition from his home country, bagging a 2017 Juno Award for "I Told You" in the Rap Recording of the Year category. "Memories Don't Die" is the rapper's second studio release, debuting in March; Future is among the guests on the disc.
Commentary: The days of David Blaine the illusionist have evolved into a blend of magic enhanced by more death-defying acts, such as shooting himself in the mouth with a .22 (seems risky!).
This interview with the Boston Globe last week shines a light on what he's accomplished and his approach to these wild stunts. Relevant for his Buffalo stop: by the end of this current tour, Blaine will have gone 12 hours (not consecutively, because that's impossible) without breathing.
10) Touch-A-Truck, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 7 at Williamsville Lehigh Valley Depot (86 S. Long St., Williamsville). Cost to take part in Touch A Truck is usually $7 per person at the event.
Commentary: The 10 might be the only place where it's natural to vault from David Blaine to a family event in Williamsville. Hey, that's the beauty of it! There will be plenty of trucks – both large and small – to be touched at the depot on Saturday, a thrilling opportunity for kids and something to do for families.