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The Weekend in WNY: Hanson, Strictly Hip hit Kleinhans

Unless you're a devoted classical music fan, Kleinhans might not be on your usual route when going out.

But, at least for this weekend, the home of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra meanders deep into pop culture, welcoming former pop stars Hanson and local stalwarts the Strictly Hip.

These quirky pop/rock-meets-classical back-to-back shows stick out in an otherwise impeccably strong weekend for Buffalo events, with the Allentown Art Festival, Star Wars Night with the Bisons and East Aurora Music Fest all expected to draw large crowds.

Hanson String Theory, 8 p.m. Friday, June 7 at Kleinhans Music Hall (3 Symphony Circle). Tickets range from $29 to $75.

Just when you think you know Hanson, you really don't. The three brothers - known for pop hit "MmmBop" and late '90s stardom and swooning - now strive for a more mature feel, exemplified by Hanson's symphonic accompaniment from the Prague Symphony for its self-produced "String Theory" album, released last fall. The BPO will be tasked with supporting Zac, Taylor and Isaac

If you told anyone, in 2000, that Hanson would one day produce a top-five classical album, you would have been met with a lot of disbelieving chuckles. But it's happened.

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Strictly Hip with the BPO8 p.m. Saturday, June 8 in Kleinhans Music Hall (3 Symphony Circle). Tickets range from $39 to $75.

Suffering a massive heart attack and undergoing open-heart surgery will certainly alter anyone's perspective on life, something Strictly Hip frontman Jeremy Hoyle learned over the last several months.

News contributor Michael Farrell wrote about Hoyle's recovery and his determination to get healthy for Saturday's gig, which promises to be even more emotional than Hip tributes already are. It will be hard to top the last time the BPO and Strictly Hip joined forces, drawing more than 15,000 people to Canalside two years ago.

Before the show, a Tragically Hip fan gathering in Falley Allen, within walking distance of Kleinhans, runs from 3 to 7 p.m. and encourages a $10 donation to the Downie Wenjack Fund.

[Read more: BPO, Strictly Hip team up for cathartic tribute, 2017]

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Allentown Art Festival, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 8-9 along Delaware Avenue and Allen Street, and to a lesser extent, Virginia and Franklin. Free to attend.

Festival season begins in earnest with Allentown's sprawling art show, where sections of both Allen and Delaware are closed off for perusing shoppers, people watchers, dog walkers, buskers and all sorts of different people. You really never know what you'll see.

There's a gargantuan list of participating vendors to be explored in advance, while Francesca Bond's guide delivers more details, including the back-to-back poster contest winner.

Allen West, which sets up at the western end of Allen, by Wadsworth, is intensely local, featuring the works of local artisans and nearby businesses. Nietzsche's will also have live music on both days as part of its own Artfest.

For more festivals, stay tuned for Gusto's Festival Guide, which will run in print on June 13.

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Star Wars Night, 6:05 p.m. first pitch, Saturday, June 8 at Sahlen Field (275 Washington St.). Tickets are $14, but a Star Wars Night Pack is also available.

Don't be alarmed if you see a Stormtrooper mingling in the 300s, Snoke snooping along the first base line or Boba Fett waiting impatiently in line for a hot dog (bounty hunters love hot dogs).

Star Wars Night pulls out all the stops at Sahlen Field, with costumes encouraged, laser swords (light sabers, but far less deadly) doled out in the specialty pack and an amusing slate of in-game entertainment.

[Related: Bisons show compassion to pregnant woman in airport | Bisons set up touching veteran's return]

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East Aurora Music Fest, 1:30 p.m. until late Saturday, June 8 at more than 20 venues in East Aurora. Cost is $15 in advance at these locations or $20 for a wristband day-of.

East Aurora will rally around live music all day and night Saturday, with hot spots like the Healthy Zone Rink, BarBill Tavern and 42 North, among many others, taking part. The wristband covers entry into all participating venues, listed on the website, which also notes the bands performing. More than anything, the music fest is a chance for the community at large to gather, and the weather looks likely to cooperate.

Look back at Smiles from last year's East Aurora Music Fest, which stopped at Fireman's Field, the rink and Elm Street Bakery.

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South Buffalo Porchfest, 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 8 at porches around South Buffalo. Free to attend.

Hey, Elmwood Village: you're not the lone compelling porch fest anymore. Expect a beautiful weekend of grassroots live music in South Buffalo, known as a tight-knit, blue-collar community. A handy interactive map pinpoints the live music locations; stretches of Abbott Road, McKinley Parkway and a nice trek around the edge of Cazenovia Park all make for good exposure. Here's the list of bands participating.

South Buffalo Porchfest was inspired by the annual Elmwood event and presented by Can You Dig It?, which runs the South Buffalo Irish Festival.

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Buffalo Bash for Mercy Flight, 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, June 7 at Buffalo RiverWorks (359 Ganson St.). Cost is $75 general admission, $50 for designated drivers.

After the American Red Cross - which presented the bash for several years, in a few different incarnations (M*A*S*H* Bash, Red Cross Bash and Buffalo Bash) - opted to stop running this event, Mercy Flight of WNY filled the void and has moved the camouflage-themed party to RiverWorks for the first time. One reason for excitement: fireworks.

General admission includes all-you-can-eat food from RiverWorks, two drinks and live music by Nerds Gone Wild. Look back at Smiles from last year's event, the Red Cross' finale.

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Superhero Walk & Run, registration begins at 2 p.m., run and walk begin at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, June 7 at Delaware Park and St. George Orthodox Church (2 Nottingham Terrace). Participation in the 5K costs $35, while the walk costs $30.

Mental health is a crucially important topic, considering the wide-reaching and complicated natures of mental illnesses. Mental health in children? Just as, if not more important.

Presented by Mental Health Advocates of WNY and Compeer of Greater Buffalo, this 5K race or 1.8-mile walk is suited for casual or competitive athletes, with prizes awarded for best superhero costume (there are just so many to choose from, now) and $100 to the fastest man and woman in the 5K.

A family friendly post-race gathering in Delaware Park will include photo ops with the Superhero Alliance of WNY, kids activities and a beer tent.

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Walk, Run and Roll in Lauren's Shoes, registration and packet pickup begins at 8:30 a.m., walk begins at 10 and run starts at 11 a.m. Sunday, June 9 at Wilkeson Pointe at the Outer Harbor (225 Fuhrmann Blvd.). Cost to participate is $35 on race day, and online registration has closed.

Put on by the Make Lemon Aide Foundation - inspired by the courage of Lauren Walier, who's battled cerebral palsy and pushed hard for greater research on the disease - this event will navigate the Outer Harbor on Sunday through both a 5K run and 1-mile walk.

Participants may wear ankle weights to mimic the effects of CP, and people with wheelchairs, walkers and strollers are welcome to take part.

News photographer Robert Kirkham snapped shots from the event last year.

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Mutt Strut11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 8 along Hertel Avenue, participating businesses are marked by the red dog bowls in front of each. Free to attend.

Perhaps the best-named event of the spring so far, the Mutt Strut welcomes dogs of all kinds to explore Hertel's dog-friendly businesses - from Delaware Avenue to Shoshone - and drink out of vibrant red dog bowls, while canine owners can chat with at least five animal rescue organizations, at the Lexington Coop, Lloyd Taco Factory and Deep South Taco.

Daisy's Doghouse, at 1448 Hertel Ave., will dole out $100 in an Instagram giveaway connected to the strut, which is presented by the Hertel Business Association.

[Related: Smiles at another dog-friendly event, Wines & Wags]

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5 additional quick hitters for this weekend

Artpark's Fairy House Festival with DakhaBrakha
Beercus, Resurgence's 5th anniversary
Drake and Friends Dance Party
Art on Oliver in North Tonawanda
Touch-a-Truck at Explore & More

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5 events to look forward to next week

Willie Nile opens Thursday & Main
New Found Glory at Town Ballroom
George Clinton & Fishbone at Artpark
Gusto Vinyl Happy Hour at Sportsmen's Tavern
Osteria 166's sixth anniversary

Email: btsujimoto@buffnews.com

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