Memorial Day Weekend is the ideal three-day respite to relax, appreciate better weather and spend time outside - whether it's dusting off the grill, heading to a nearby green space with friends or even following Francesca Bond's suggestions.
With one more day to account for, this edition of the biweekly event rundown is robust but balanced, with a wealth of options ranging from Friday through Monday, closing with some quick hitters worth further exploration.
Head to Woodlawn Beach for four events: Bentley's Beach Bash, Friday, May 24; Flow Fest, Saturday, May 25; Boys of Summer, Sunday, May 26; and the Memorial Day Beach Bash, Monday, May 27 at 3580 Lake Shore Road, Blasdell. The usual cost to enter Woodlawn is $7.
Non-stop action is planned for Memorial Day Weekend at the Woodlawn Beach Tiki Bar, ranging from local radio personality Bentley's party Friday to the Kiss 98.5 FM beach bash, with DJ Anthony and a slew of others, on Monday. Reggae-inspired Flow Fest - presented annually by local band Funktional Flow - stars on Saturday, with Boys of Summer rolling through covers on Sunday.
At least in terms of promotions and a full calendar, Woodlawn has its act together this year with the future of the beach in question.
[Photos: Look back at Smiles from last year's Memorial Day Bash at Woodlawn]
Memorial Day parades: in Williamsville, 2 to 4 p.m. Monday, May 27, begins at Williamsville South High School and concludes at the Village Hall; free to attend. In Town of Tonawanda/Village of Kenmore, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday, May 27; starts from Delaware Avenue between Sheridan Drive and Chatsworth Avenue, then touch Lincoln Boulevard, Elmwood Avenue and wrap up at Mang Park.
Tradition and remembrance play key roles in Memorial Day events, and Williamsville and Tonawanda/Kenmore are two of several area neighborhoods with parades scheduled. The root of the holiday is to cherish the service of those who died serving our country, and these community walks are intended to honor their memories.
For the last two Memorial Days, News columnist Sean Kirst has written stirring stories from the perspective of family members - Grover Coleman Jr. and Rev. Robert Beiter, in these instances - whose relatives died in the service.
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Buffalo Marathon, 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, May 26, in downtown Buffalo, with a post-race party in the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center (153 Franklin St.). Free to be a spectator, but registration closed May 20.
With roughly 7,500 runners taking part in the Buffalo Marathon - either the 13.1-mile half or the 26.2-mile full - odds are good that you'll know a runner that's participating. And given the handy course map, there are a few junctions throughout the city where you can see runners pass multiple times, even if finding parking could present a challenge due to road closures.
The post-race festivities take place on the second floor of the convention center, beginning at 8:15, with beer - including the Flying Bison Mile 27 pilsner - served at 9 a.m. There's a 67-page marathon guide, and you can look back at Smiles from last year's marathon.
The first Darien Lake show of the summer season is not one for lingering too long in the lots. Dylan Scott and Chris Janson are two openers worth seeing on this Raised on Country Tour, and Chris Young - fairly new to headlining bills in Darien - caps the night of music.
All three performers have a single on Billboard's Hot Country Songs, with Young's "Raised on Country" at No. 21, Scott's "Nothing to Do Town" at No. 40 and Janson's "Good Vibes" sitting two spots later.
Totally Buffalo Festival, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 25-26, at Buffalo RiverWorks (359 Ganson St.). Admission is $5 at the door, with kids 5 years old and younger getting in for free.
Buffalo takes center stage for local blog Totally Buffalo's annual summer festival, with a range of local artisans showcasing their products in RiverWorks, kids activities, plus solo and acoustic music acts to create a vibe.
Both days are family friendly, food will be available throughout the venue and the activity will be both indoors and outdoors. A portion of the proceeds benefits the blog's Hope for the Holidays initiative. Here's the scene from 2018.
Taste of Lewiston, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 25, on Center Street in Lewiston, between 4th and 6th streets, blocked off to traffic. Free to attend, with food prices ranging from $1-$7.
Lewiston has a lot to offer in food and drink, from restaurants such as the Brickyard and Gallo Coal Fire Kitchen to a treasure trove of wineries. Community staples such as Hibbard's, Casa Antica and DiCamillo offer ample charm and longevity.
The range and quality of the village's vendors is highlighted at Saturday's event, which closes a small portion of Center Street to allow for patrons to peruse a slew of businesses. According to WNY Papers, event leadership has changed hands from the Lewiston Council of the Arts and Corey McGowan Productions to the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce.
Maifest, begins at noon on Sunday, May 26, in Spring Garden Park (3838 Two Rod Road, East Aurora). Admission is $6 at the site.
One of the lesser heralded festivals held by the Spring Garden Association is Maifest, a late-spring gathering in the woods that features live music by the Frankfurters, German food and a 42 North Maibock brewed specially for the event.
Maifest is actually quite similar to the Spring Garden Association's much more popular Waldfest, slated for July 21 at the same venue.
Dogs are eager to take advantage of Memorial Day Weekend, too, and that's where Bark in the Park comes in. Leashed dogs and their human companions are invited to saunter around Clarence Town Park visiting (and sniffing) more than 80 vendors, with 15 area rescue groups represented.
Prizes will be awarded in a few clever categories, including Curliest Tail, Most Patriotic and [closest] Owner Look-A-Like.
The means - BMX, FMX, scooter or skate - is less important to Nitro Circus Live than the daredevil attitude that unites the riders. While the entire lineup isn't present at each event - and Nitro doesn't announce city-specific participants - three participants were teased for the stop at Sahlen Field: Ryan Williams, Kurtis Downs and Jarryd McNeil. Marvel at the stunts and skills from this touring production.
Five Buffalo bands will compete for an opening slot in the annual Rock Autism Music Festival, scheduled for Aug. 31 in Ellicottville and starring the Allman Betts Band. Each auditioning group will have a 20-minute set from 7:30 to 10:10 p.m., with the crowd voting for its favorite at 10:15 and the winner announced at 10:30. The money raised will benefit music workshops for youths with autism.
[Related: Smiles at Rock Autism Music Festival 2018]
Edreys Wajed's gallery opening: "Check Out My Melody," 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, May 24 at Argus Gallery (1896 Niagara St.). No cost to attend.
The last two years have been massive for local multimedia artist Edreys Wajed, who worked feverishly alongside his peers on the Freedom Wall, a giant mural featuring local and national civil right s leaders, at East Ferry Street and Michigan Avenue. More recently, Wajed's spoken-word prowess shined in Paul Robeson Theatre's production of "Sidewalk Stageplay."
Wajed's fusion of art and music is the focus in "Check Out My Melody," which translates hip-hop into ink and graphite portraits, as well as abstract paintings. There's a technology edge to the exhibition thanks to local company Twisted Rope; viewers can engage with some of the art on their smartphones through Augmented Reality.
5 quick hitters to consider
5 events to look forward to next week
Flux Pavilion in Town Ballroom
Thursday Night Terrors shows "Chopping Mall"
The 1975 at Darien Lake Amphitheatre
Black Iron Bystro's fifth anniversary
Food Truck Tuesday at Larkin Square
Note: Due to Memorial Day, there will not be a This Week in Buffalo event story posted Monday or sent out as a Gusto newsletter. A short rundown of events for Tuesday through Thursday will be published and emailed the morning of May 28.
Story topics: Buffalo Marathon/ Chris Young/ event previews/ maifest/ nitro circus/ Rock Autism Music Festival/ spring garden association/ Taste of Lewiston/ things to do/ Totally Buffalo Festival/ Weekend in WNY/ Woodlawn Beach