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Weekend in WNY: Explore the world in Buffalo

There's a tendency for Buffalo natives to become insular, like when we adore when outsiders pump us up and lash out defensively when others put us down. While some might view these knee-jerk reactions as negative and excessive, they're also signs that Buffalonians are fiercely proud of their hometown.

World Refugee Day and the Taste of Diversity, both running this weekend, serve as a reminder that Buffalo is a welcoming community that's not "us against the world." The city might be viewed as an underdog by the nation at large, but it's an underdog known for being neighborly and accommodating (yet filled with bad drivers, apparently), and one that seeks growth.

Chances are good that you've interacted with a refugee or immigrant in the last few years, and probably also have heard harrowing stories of refugee camps, escapes and oppression. The fact that Buffalo can exist as a new, safe haven for people across the world doubles as a reward for Buffalo natives, who can embrace other cultural traditions.

World Refugee Day, soccer and volleyball tournament preliminary rounds run Saturday in LaSalle Park, with cultural festivities and the conclusion of those tournaments running 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, June 30 at LaSalle Park (1 Porter Ave.). Free to attend.

Buffalo has welcomed refugees with open arms for decades, with a slew of local organizations assisting to establish newcomers' personal and professional lives after arriving from war-torn, embattled regions in Africa, Asia and beyond.

World Refugee Day, a volunteer-run event, has expanded to a two-day festival, with much of the cultural activity occurring on Sunday (see the schedule for that day). The soccer and volleyball tournaments comprise teams broken up by region, country or organization, with round-robin play on Saturday to set the stage for Sunday's playoff games.

For the cultural experience, including a swath of games, vendors, kids activities, ethnic food, live music and more, Sunday is the day to hit LaSalle Park. The World Refugee Day website has a list of bus schedules for the East Side and West Side.

[Related: Look at Smiles from a previous World Refugee Day | Long read: From Burma to Buffalo]


Taste of Diversity, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, June 29 on Grant Street between Auburn and Lafayette. No cost to attend.

The News' Francesca Bond lays out the details for the Taste of Diversity (even though she needed the "old wooden ship" reference explained to her), which will take over Grant Street on Saturday for a full day of food, music and dance. Dim sum, jerk curry chicken, oxtail and pernil are all on the menu, but there are also plenty of meatless choices available, too.

Don't miss the nearby Buffalo Myanmar Water Festival, at Grant Street and Breckenridge, at the same time. It's quite the visual spectacle, and like the Taste, it's open to kids and adults to experience unfamiliar cultures.


T.I. at Canalside, 5 p.m. Saturday, June 29 at 44 Prime St. Cost is $10, only general admission still available.

T.I. isn't a stranger to jams, as "Whatever You Like" and collaborations such as "Dead and Gone" with Justin Timberlake, are anthemic, as music writers often say.

The Atlanta rapper has been considerably more involved in film ("Get Hard," "Entourage," "Ant-Man") over the last five years, and it sounds like his desire to record solo albums is waning. That's not to take away from what T.I. has already accomplished, and he's sure to draw a healthy crowd of hip-hop fans to the waterfront on Saturday for Canalside's second show of the summer.

The rapper is expected to be at VENU's after party (tickets here), while Iron Works welcomes local group Vitamin D to its stage for a post-Canalside follow-up.

[Related: What's OK to bring to a Canalside show? What's forbidden?]


Buffalo-style Garden Art Sale, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 29 and 30, at the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens (2655 S. Park Ave.). No cost to attend.

This Gardens Buffalo Niagara event's tagline is "No garden, especially a Buffalo garden, is complete without art!" Vendors hailing from the Buffalo-area and Rochester, and one from Florida, will gather at the gardens to showcase their glass, pottery, woodwork, sculptures and more. We've been told that some artwork is so mesmerizing that it discourages squirrels, woodchucks and other garden predators from messing around.

Sample images of the works can be seen at Gardens Buffalo Niagara's website, which also notes that food trucks and live music will be a part of the event.


Spark Hertel, 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday, June 29 on Hertel Avenue from Delaware Avenue to Virgil Avenue. No cost to attend.

Spoke & Dagger, a North Buffalo motorcycle shop run by Chris and Jodi Drew, has partnered with The Garage and the Hertel Business Association for the inaugural Spark Hertel, which seeks to lure car and bike enthusiasts to a closed-off section of Hertel Avenue.

Roughly 15 vendors, with several fitting the motorcycle theme, will set up, with four bands - Miller & the Other Sinners, the Hayden Fogle Band, the Jony James Blues Band and Kenny Parker - all slated to perform. Check out more basics on the first edition of Spark Hertel.


"The Kenan Collection" at Kenan House Gallery (opening reception from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 30 at 433 Locust St., Lockport) and the Roycroft Art and Antique Show (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 29 and 30 at 31 S. Grove St., East Aurora). Both are free to attend.

The suburbs are awash with opportunities to peruse and purchase art, and two stellar opportunities arrive this weekend both north and south of the city.

News contributor Melinda Miller relayed the details for both events in her weekly Arts Beat story; the Lockport gallery has received donated artworks over the last several decades and now will present them together for the first time, while more than 70 artists will gather in East Aurora, and there will be alpacas on the scene.


Update: June 28 - Rock the Boat has been canceled due to lack of a liquor license.

Rock the Boat at U.S.S. Little Rock, 7 to 11 p.m. Sunday, June 30 in the Buffalo & Erie County Naval Park (One Naval Park Cove). General admission is $49.99, includes a three-hour open bar (7-10).

DJ RanKan guides this pre-4th of July party on the Little Rock, a giant ship, commissioned at the end of 2017, stationed at the Naval Park. The outside-the-box venue will feature an open bar, food and three DJs spinning top 40, house and club music. Get a jump on the holiday week with this Sunday night bash.


Sunset Bay Paddle Fest, 9:30 a.m. gathering, 11 a.m. race time to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 29 at Sunset Bay USA (1028 S. Shore Drive, Irving). A $10 donation is strongly encouraged, while paddle boards and kayaks may be rented for $25, with life jackets and whistles for a small additional fee. Those with any self-propelled boat may bring their own, of course.

The water is finally warm enough for Sunset Bay's annual Paddle Fest, rescheduled from May (water temperature) and again in early June (wind) for this supposed-to-be-balmy weekend.

The concept is simple, and two route options - a 5-mile adventure race course or a 2.5-mile relaxed paddle - meet different levels of intensity. A happy hour at Cabana Sam's, from 2 to 4 p.m., will satiate after the paddle.


Twiddle & Ripe, 5 p.m. Friday, June 28 at Canalside (44 Prime St.). Tickets are $5 in advance, with VIP passes available for $35.

The first Canalside Live concert of the season is a double bill, with four-piece Vermont band Twiddle and Berklee alums Ripe each gracing the stage.

While both groups are loosely categorized as rock bands, expect elements of funk and jazz, with some jam-band influence, to more specifically define the show. Although waterfront concerts have taken a slight turn from past years, there's some talent on the slate for this summer.

[Related: Check out Gusto's Summer Concert Guide for 2019]


5 rapid-fire events for this weekend

Party for the Planet at the Buffalo Zoo
Battle for Bentley at Irish Center
Patriotic Paws Parade at Broadway and Central in Lancaster
South Buffalo Regatta Run at Cazenovia Park
FC Buffalo vs. Cleveland SC soccer


5 events to look forward to next week

The tall ships arrive in Buffalo
Fireworks celebrations across the area
Jimmy Eat World, Third Eye Blind in Artpark
Burton Cummings at Artpark
Ellicottville Rodeo


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