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Weekend in WNY: Rejoice, lovers of polka, sausage and Jane Austen

That it's hard to develop a unifying theme around a Things to Do newsletter is proof that, contrary to opinion of many, Buffalo winters aren't so bleak that people huddle in bars to pass the time.

Well, many Buffalonians do drink during the winter, but it's often to complement an event with a different purpose, as you'll see in the diversity of choices for this weekend.

Town of Tonawanda Winterfest, 6 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18; 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20; 12:30 to 3:45 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21.

The Town of Tonawanda packs winter activities for all ages into Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend, ranging from free skating to exhibition hockey games to a biergarten party, featuring two members of Strictly Hip on Saturday night in a heated tent. See the full schedule here.

Additional highlights include a visit from Sabretooth, the Kenmore East vs. Kenmore West Federation exhibition hockey game, a one-pitch adult softball tournament, hayrides, fireworks and even a summer-themed party in the Aquatic and Fitness Center on MLKJ Day. Look back at Smiles from Winterfest 2018.

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Garage Cafe one-year anniversary, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19 at 1127 Hertel Ave. Free to attend.

The story of Lisa and Joe Riniolo's transformation of a Hertel garage into a well-balanced restaurant and bar with headline-stealing cinnamon rolls was one of 2018's most heart-warming, and now the Garage Cafe is prepared to celebrate its first year of business with its customers.

Perks include $5 appetizers, free birthday cupcakes (chocolate topped with Bailey's marshmallow frosting), live music by Miller & the Other Sinners and the debut of The Garage's cocktails. Lisa Riniolo explained that, following the party, The Garage staff would begin to renovate the eastern-most bay to create a full bar and live music area.


Sausage Fest, 1 to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19 at Rusty Nickel Brewing Co. (4350 Seneca St., West Seneca). Free to attend, but competitors must register in advance.

Every winter, West Seneca beer lovers gather to honor a premier grilling food - sausage - with the goal of snagging one of several awards: Best in Show, Best Sausage, Best Venison and Best Breakfast Sausage. For event-goers, sausage samples from sponsors will be free, while it's up to the competitors to cook extra sausages for the public.

Prizes for the Best Sausage are exceptional: First place receives a $280 sausage stuffer made in Buffalo, while second place claims an $80 Porkert meat grinder.

Please note the earlier starting time - it was previously set at 4 p.m. There's no shortage of jokes surrounding the event's name.


Buffalo Women's March, 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20 at Niagara Square (65 Niagara Square). Free to attend.

The Buffalo version of National Women's March will go on regardless of inclement weather on Sunday, in support of principles like "truth and love, peace and justice, equity, non-violence and care for Mother Earth."

Eleven local women from a variety of community organizations are scheduled for short speeches beginning at 1:30 p.m., with the march to follow at roughly 2:20.

The WNY Peace Center outlines the movement's goals and the full program here.


"Sense and Sensibility" at Irish Classical Theatre, 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19 at 625 Main St. Tickets are $45 general admission here, or $20 for students with identification. The production runs through Feb. 10.

With character names like Fanny and Elinor, you know the Irish Classical Theatre's new production is embracing a classic. Jane Austen novel "Sense and Sensibility" hits the local stage with fanfare - the Friday and Sunday performances on opening weekend have already sold out - and guest director Chris Kelly, who led the multi-theater foray into "The Three Musketeers" last year, is back for more fun.


D.L. Hughley, 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. shows on Friday, Jan. 18; 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19, and 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20. Cost is $37.50 for general admission here, or $70 for VIP. The early show on Saturday has sold out in advance.

Twitter followers bristled when we referred to Hughley as a comedy "superstar," but given that the first of his two Saturday shows has already sold out, his local popularity, at least, isn't in doubt.

Host of "The D.L. Hughley Show," which may be streamed here, Hughley's humor steers toward political commentary, a particularly ripe topic.

[Related: More comedy choices on tap for this weekend]


Polka, Piwo and Pierogi, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19 at The Broadway Market (999 Broadway). Free to attend.

Fitting in with National Polka Month, Polish culture steals the spotlight Saturday at the Broadway Market, with polka by Docenko (9 to 11 a.m.) and Buffalo Touch (noon to 3 p.m.) complemented by piwo (beer) tastings from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and pierogi for sale by five local businesses: Babcia's, Chrusciki Bakery, Keeping Traditions, Pierogi by Paula and Potts Deli.

[Photos: Smiles at Polka, Piwo and Pierogi in 2018]


FC Buffalo's 10th anniversary party, 3 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20 at Town Ballroom (681 Main St.). Cost is $25 in advance here. Season-ticket holders get in for $18.

Buffalo's semi-professional men's soccer team enters its 10th season, and that's cause for a party. Admission cost comes with a slew of benefits: an Italian buffet dinner courtesy of Gino Pinzone, owner of Gino's Pizza Place and catering; beer tastings from Big Ditch Brewing and three German breweries; two entries into a raffle and a single-game ticket voucher for the 2019 season, which typically kicks off in May.

A championship series on FC Buffalo's Super Kixx Pro, a soccer version of bubble hockey, is also on the docket.

The Wolves have scheduled an anniversary trip to Germany for a few preseason friendlies, the first time an National Premier Soccer League team has traveled overseas for matches. Dortmund, Germany is officially Buffalo's sister city.


BarkHappy Pajama Paw-ty, 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19 at Flying Bison Brewing Co. (840 Seneca St.). Cost is $15 general admission in advance here.

BarkHappy, a national dog-centered mobile app (for humans), presents a party in Flying Bison with a make-your-own dog toy activity, dessert bites from Allentown's Mundy Cakes and a chance to help Buffalo C.A.R.E.S., a local rescue operation. Both adults and well-behaved dogs are encouraged to wear pajamas; style points if your dog will trot around proudly in footie pajamas.

If you don't follow Thoughts of Dog on Twitter, you should immediately. It might be the best account ever.


Kaydara Noodle Bar pop-up, 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20 at Salumeria Belsito (1368 Hertel Ave.). Prices vary by menu item, takeout available by calling 783-9390.

Do you miss Kaydara Noodle Bar? The former pan-Asian restaurant in the Sidway Building has scheduled occasional pop-ups since closing in 2017. Salumeria Belsito, a wine bar on Hertel that's blossomed in popularity, will open its kitchen to Kaydara owner Jennifer Laban on Sunday, with dine-in and takeout options available.

Menu items include potstickers, dumplings, fresh rolls and noodles. Keep an eye on the Facebook event page Thursday for a detailed menu.


BONUS: Polish Happy Hour, 5 to 11 p.m. Jan. 19 at St. Stanislaus Community Center (389 Peckham St.). Free to attend.

BONUS 2: Polar Pizza Party pop-up with Westside Tilth Farm, 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20 at Essex St. Pub (530 Rhode Island St.). Free to attend.

Note: The Buffalo Museum of Science's Science After Hours: Get a Clue has sold out in advance.


5 events to look forward to next week

G. Love and Special Sauce at the Tralf
Catfish & the Bottlemen at Rec Room
Thursday Night Terrors' new season at Amherst Dipson
Disney on Ice in KeyBank Center
Swing Buffalo anniversary dance


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