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The Weekend in WNY: Channel your inner polar bear

If you follow any of The Buffalo Zoo's social media accounts, you've seen polar bear Luna enjoying her climate. She romps about her quarters, bounding and sliding through fresh snow, seemingly the most gleeful of animals (and humans) during the Buffalo winter (clearly she's never sat in traffic by the blue water tower).

The unbridled joy of a polar bear is at your fingertips Sunday in Olcott, where the Polar Bear Swim for Sight celebrates its 50th anniversary and, as usual, raises money for a slew of local charities, many connected to eyesight.

Olcott Polar Bear Swim for Sight, event begins at 10 a.m., with the swim at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 3 at Niagara County Krull Park (6108 Lake Road, Olcott). Registration is $25 in advance or $30 day-of, but additional fundraising is encouraged.

The swim itself, presented annually by the Olcott Lions Club, is slotted for 2 p.m., but activities run most of the day at Krull Park on Lake Ontario. Participants are encouraged to dress in costumes, tastefully and safely bare what they'd like for the swim and are free to tailgate to stay warm, witness the parade of previous Polar Bear kings and queens, cheer the crowning of the 50th anniversary king and queen.

Look back at last year's Smiles and staff galleries for crazy costumes, shivering swimmers and cheery tailgaters.

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Lepre-Con Bar Crawl, 2 to 9 p.m. Saturday, March 2 on Chippewa Street. General admission is $19.99; more ticket details here.

At least six Chippewa District bars will participate in Saturday's Lepre-Con, an Irish-themed crawl that is based at VENU (75 W. Chippewa St.) but extends to Bottoms Up, Rec Room, 67 West, The Cowboy and D'Arcy McGee's.

Participants receive a score card, souvenir cup, drink specials and no cover into participating bars, and the first 200 finishers receive a free T-shirt.


Cure vs. Smiths Dance Party, 8 p.m. Saturday, March 2 at Buffalo Iron Works (49 Illinois St.). Admission is $5 in advance.

As the event details cleverly note, Buffalo's Cure vs. Smiths dance party is now old enough to drive. Hearkening back to English rock in the late 1970s and early '80s, the Cure and the Smiths were vying for royalty, at a lesser level than the Beatles and the Rolling Stones but still enough for dueling dance parties to exist around the country 40 years later.

This event, hosted by Transmission Dance Party, is annually well attended and occasionally sells out, so it's smart to buy tickets in advance. Look back at Smiles from last year's party.

[Related: Seattle's The Stranger debates the Cure vs. the Smiths]


Shamrock Run, 9 a.m. day-of registration, noon race outside Old First Ward Community Center (62 Republic St.). Cost is $35 through Feb. 28, $40 on March 1-2; all entry details here.

Wear festive green, consider hauling a pot o' gold (OK, a bad idea for a run) and bring a healthy dose of Irish cheer on Saturday for the annual Shamrock Run, which ushers in the St. Patrick's Day season in the Old First Ward. Some participants run the sanctioned 8K for time, while others consider it a bit o' exercise in a day of partying and community.

[Related: Shamrock Run is the pride of the Old First Ward, writes Sean Kirst]


Disturbed, Three Days Grace, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 2 in KeyBank Center. Tickets begin at $48.

Twice the hard rock for KeyBank Center concertgoers on Saturday, which will wrap up a busy week for the venue following Travis Scott and Michael Buble. When Disturbed's Buffalo date was first announced, the band's new album, "Evolution," was due out the next day.

Five months later, the early results are in on David Draiman and friends' disc, which debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard Top 200 and sat atop the Top Alternative and Top Rock album lists.


Dillon Francis, doors at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 2 in Buffalo RiverWorks (359 Ganson St.). Tickets are $35 in advance.

Brought to the spotlight by established DJ Diplo while in his mid-20s, young Los Angeles producer Dillon Francis looks to raise his profile even higher after a strong 2018 in which he released "Wut Wut." In the ever-confusing world of electronic subgenres, Francis' "moombahcore" has influences of reggae, dubstep and house.

Francis continues a strong run of winter EDM gigs that has included LOTUS and G Jones since the new year and follows with Excision soon.


South Buffalo Pizza Fest, noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 2 in South Buffalo Charter School (154 S. Ogden St.). Tickets are $3 in advance but also available at the door for $5. Each slice costs one ticket, and tickets are $1 apiece.

What started as a small fundraiser to support Boy Scout Troop 60 of South Buffalo has turned into a mammoth food event thanks to ... pizza. An official list of participants has yet to be released, but some of those announced include Wise Guys Pizza, JJ's Casa di Pizza, Buffalo Pizza and Ale House, Pizza by Molino's and Desi's.

Look back at Smiles from the Pizza Fest in 2016, and consider participating in this year's pizza-eating contest.


Wine & Whiskers Gala, 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, March 2 in Salvatore's Italian Gardens (6461 Transit Road, Depew). General admission is $55.

Purr-fect Fit Animal Rescue and Adoption Center presents a formal night at Salvatore's with dinner (includes vegetarian options), an open bar and auctions, with proceeds used to care for rescues at Purr-fect Fit's facility at 2231 Wehrle Drive. Known more as a shelter for stray or orphaned cats, Purr-fect also accepts dogs, too, according to its website.


Sip, Shop and Eat in Lewiston, 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2 on Center Street in Lewiston, with eating from 2 to 9 p.m. Free to attend.

Street festivals in Lewiston are more than just summer saunters down Center Street, biting gleefully into a juicy peach or peeking around art booths. The sipping and shopping portions of the Lewiston Business Group's winter festival run from 2 to 6 p.m., with punch cards available at locations with gold star balloons, while blue balloons mark participating businesses for eating and pink balloons indicate businesses for shopping.

For those who fill out their card with 10 punches, they will be entered into a raffle that totals $500 in prizes to the participating businesses. Look at the Facebook event page discussion to learn about Lewiston businesses involved and some of their deals.


Ray of Hope Gala, 5:30 p.m. Saturday, March 2 in Columns Banquet Center (2221 Transit Road, Elma). Single tickets are $85 in advance.

Matthew Foster, an Iroquois High School student, died from cancer in 1999, but the cancer-fighting foundation named after him has lived on. The Ray of Hope Gala, with a '50s theme, celebrates Foster's two-year fight with the disease and raises money for the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and others, specifically supporting families with children facing cancer.

The cocktail portion begins at 5:30, with dinner served at 7. Live music and dancing follows and fits the gala's theme.


BONUS: Cross the Pond, 8 p.m. Saturday, March 2 in Sportsmen's Tavern (326 Amherst St.). Tickets are $10 in advance.

Sportsmen's in Black Rock hosts an evening of Irish and Appalachian music featuring local bands the Dady Brothers, Crikwater and the Brothers Blue; the former two recently starred at The Wake, a fundraiser for Irish Classical Theatre. Learn more about Crikwater from Michael Farrell's interview with Liam Caulfield in 2016.

[Photos: Smiles at Cross the Pond in Sportsmen's in 2018]


5 events to look forward to next week

Paczki Day in the Broadway Market
Fat Tuesday Bar Crawl on Chippewa
Taste of Vegan in Resurgence Brewing
WYRK Acoustic Show in UB Center for the Arts
Tritonal in Town Ballroom


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