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This Week in Buffalo: A good time to hum the Erie Canal song

While there might not be any mules named Sal, there's lots to be done this week by the Erie Canal. (Sorry if that song gets stuck in your head).

Aside from the Erie County Fair, Canal Fest of the Tonawandas offers the longest opportunity to take part, touching on two separate weekends and five weekdays with activities to appease both kids and adults.

The bustling canal-side setting makes it easy to imagine what life was like when Tonawanda was a key juncture in the area's role as a major port city. And even if realizing the potential of the closed Huntley Generation Station site seems far off, this week serves as a smart time to push resources into the city and town of Tonawanda and North Tonawanda.

Canal Fest of the Tonawandas, 4 to 11 p.m. Monday, July 15 and Tuesday, July 16; noon to 11 p.m. Wednesday, July 17; 2 to 11 p.m. Thursday, July 18; runs through July 21 on Sweeney Street and both sides of the Erie Canal. Free to attend.

The first year without dogs at Canal Fest seems to be going quite smoothly, according to Jane Kwiatkowski's report. A gaggle of mini events add charm to this festival, such as the annual tug-of-war between Tonawanda and North Tonawanda city officials on Monday, a car cruise on Wednesday and a live music every night. Read the full schedule, and see the road and bridge closures for the event.

[Photos: Smiles at Canal Fest of the Tonawandas in 2018 | Guide: Visit 3 port towns by Erie Canal]


Wines in the Wild, 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, July 18 at the Buffalo Zoo (300 Parkside Ave.). General admission tickets are still available for $50, while VIP tent access costs $150. Early admission passes are sold out.

Get classy with wine and a baby rhinoceros at the Buffalo Zoo, where Mohan is stealing headlines and hearts over the last two weeks. (The videos are adorable).

Oh, right, the event. Wine and craft beer samples are included in admission, with small bites to curb alcohol's effects. A slew of auctions adds to the appeal.


Psychedelic Furs and james, 5 to 11 p.m. Thursday, July 18 at Canalside (44 Prime St.). Cost is $5 general admission, $35 for VIP access; full ticket details.

With all due respect to Twiddle and Ripe, and Get the Led Out, Thursday's Psychedelic Furs and james show at Canalside bundles two of the more alluring names on the season's schedule.

The Furs are a Brit psych-rock band with energy to burn and a sound local following, judging by their sold-out show in Town Ballroom in 2017, while james virtually never plays the area and adds to Thursday's intrigue. Gusto editor Toni Ruberto rolled off a few songs you should know from each band.


Blink 182, Lil Wayne, 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 17 at Darien Lake Amphitheatre (9993 Allegheny Road, Darien Center). Tickets begin at $24 for lawn seats.

There's no doubt that Wednesday's show in Darien represents a weird pairing, one that has already bothered Lil Wayne, who didn't have the kindest of words for the crowd at a recent show in Virginia. The lone rapper in an otherwise pop-punk bill will carry on, however, but it will be interesting for fans at Darien Lake to see his stage presence and whether he mails it in with a short set.

Blink fans are excited by the future, with the potential for two sets of new music in the next year.


Soho's 20th anniversary, 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, July 17 at 64 W. Chippewa St. Free to attend.

Through all its different incarnations - from college-age dance club to casual burger bar to its current iteration, a slightly more upscale bar-restaurant - Soho and owner Jay Manno have plodded on, reaching its two-decade milestone.

The anniversary party on Wednesday coincides with the Soho Live music series, where Vitamin D, featuring Vin DeRosa, will perform, and complimentary cocktails and hors d'oeuvres will be available for the occasion.


Old Home Days, 4 to 11 p.m. Tuesday, July 16; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday, July 17; noon to 10:30 p.m. Thursday, July 18; continues Friday and Saturday; in Island Park (5655 Main St., Williamsville). Wristbands for the rides range between $15-$20, depending on the day.

Williamsville's Old Home Days is not your typical festival, running on weekdays rather than the weekend.

Like Queen of Heaven and countless other festivals, carnival rides lend a family-friendly feel, but this year's special events are worth consideration, from a corn hole tournament to a fundraiser for the Nolan M. Burch Foundation, featuring Rachel's Mediterranean Grill, kicking things off on Tuesday. There's live music, a wing-tasting competition, a beer tent happy hour and much more in the full schedule.


Jazz Goes Pop at Hotel Henry Jazz Series, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 17 at 444 Forest Ave. Cost is $15 in advance; these events often sell out before the day of show.

Mark Marinaccio and a six-piece band will perform jazz version of classic pop songs, ranging from Michael Jackson to Billy Joel numbers. For fans of the JazzBuffalo monthly series, in its third year, Marinaccio might be a familiar name, as he led the charge at an earlier Michael Jackson-focused evening.

Like all of these Hotel Henry Jazz Series shows, attendees receive a 10% discount on orders from 100 Acres, the campus' restaurant, on the night of the performance.

[Related: Smiles at Hotel Henry's A Jazzy Christmas | A Closer Look gallery of Hotel Henry]


Lloyd Taco burrito-eating contest, sign-in at 6 p.m., burrito-eating contest begins at 6:30 on Thursday, July 18 at Lloyd Taco Factory Williamsville (5933 Main St.). Cost to attend is $10, and must be purchased online before 4 p.m. Thursday.

How fast can you plow through a behemoth Lloyd burrito? Three tiers of prizes - $100, a big trophy and a feature on Lloyd's Instagram page; $50 and a smaller trophy; and $25 and an even smaller trophy - will be doled out to the speediest burrito eaters. Last year's winner finished in around two minutes (which we believe is a beatable time).

Rules are that contestants must have a burrito with a protein, cabbage and either rice, beans or both. (I'm not sure why you'd get both, as that would be more food to eat).


Sold-out: Earth, Wind and Fire at Artpark, Tuesday; Cocktails on the Lawn at Mansion on Delaware, Wednesday.


5 quick-hitters for this week

Waxlight pop-up at Las Puertas
NOBO Fest at North Park Community School
Hops for Hope at Resurgence Brewing
Roll Out the Barrel for Erie County Fair at Flying Bison
Sip Away Sarcoma at AcQua Restaurant


5 events to look forward to this weekend

Italian Festival in Niagara Square
Waldfest in Spring Garden Park
Thomas Rhett at Darien Lake
Buffalo Polonia Weekend in Cheektowaga
Hamburg Burger Fest


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