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The Weekend in WNY: Wobble on the Cobble

Organizing a downtown music festival is tough work. There are bands to book, schedule and accommodate, a smattering of paperwork to submit, local food vendors to attract, workers/volunteers to find and a litany of other duties necessary to ensure a seamless experience. It's exhausting and overwhelming.

Music venue Buffalo Iron Works and part-distillery, part-music host Lockhouse are the two Cobblestone District businesses at the helm of Cobblestone Live, which enters its third year. It's the biggest event on an exceptional weekend for things to do in the Buffalo area.

Cobblestone Live, 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2; 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3 in the Cobblestone District (Iron Works, Lockhouse and outside). Tickets are $20 for one day or $35 for both days, with prices rising day-of.

Cobblestone Live has ironed out the kinks of hosting a robust, two-day event, with a massive slate of live music and accompanying entertainment – such as a Chef's spaghetti parmesan eating contest – on the docket.

The headliners – from 9:30 to 11 p.m. both days on the Illinois Stage – are noteworthy: Buffalo's Aqueous, praised by Jeff Miers last fall, is literally the biggest name Friday, while Rochester's Joywave, indie rockers on the ascent, close out Saturday.

But it's the lineup's depth and variety that has Cobblestone Live in the conversation for the summer's best music festival, with 15 bands Friday and 16 more on Saturday, across five stages. The festival's schedule looks great in PDF format.

[More: 5 acts to find at Cobblestone Live | Smiles at 2018 Cobblestone Live]


Insectival, entrances at noon and 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3 at Tifft Nature Preserve (1200 Fuhrmann Blvd.). Cost is $7 in advance.

If your general experience with insects is limited to vicious mosquitoes and pesky black flies, then you might have reservations about attending this festival at Tifft Nature Preserve. But you shouldn't be deterred!

Organizers intend this buggy festival to be as approachable as possible for kids and adults, as well as flexible enough through two different sessions. (Also, make sure you see the insect fossils in tow from the Museum of Science; they are as intricate as they are fascinating).

The News' Francesca Bond flew through the details, which include wonderfully named Chocolate Chirp Cookies. Crickets are, in fact, crunchy.


Arkells, doors at 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2 at Canalside (44 Prime St.). Tickets range from $10 to $40.

The excitement has built around this summer show since Arkells announced it onstage during their opening set for the Who at KeyBank Center.

Buffalo's adoration for the Hamilton, Ont., rock band has intensified over the last five years, as Arkells sold out back-to-back nights in Town Ballroom, teased new music through a billboard off the I-190 and earned that coveted arena opening slot for a GOAT-contender. Frontman Max Kerman has become must-see entertainment.

Friday's show will serve as a tune-up for Lollapalooza, which Arkells play Sunday in Chicago. That is a big stage.


Buffalo Brewfest, 5 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2 at Buffalo RiverWorks (359 Ganson St.). Cost ranges from $35 to $75, and designated drivers get in for free.

Buffalo's craft beer festivals are as abundant as traffic cones each summer, but Brewfest stands out thanks to its willingness to invite fledgling breweries. MyCity Brew, One-Eyed Cat, In the Mix or Sato Brewpub lack the distribution level and visibility of Buffalo's more established brewers, but they'll all have presences on Friday in RiverWorks.

Small regional vendors such as Nostrovia (Erie, Pa.), Buried Acorn (Syracuse) and WeBe (Geneva) are all worthy, too. Proceeds benefit the Buffalo Hearing & Speech Center. See the full list of participating breweries.


WNY Vegfest, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 4 at Buffalo RiverWorks (359 Ganson St.). The event is free to attend; to participate in the Vegfest 5K, cost ranges from $25 in advance to $30 day-of.

Buffalo's flourishing vegan food scene rolls forward with the annual summer event dedicated to the plant-based diet, which moves to RiverWorks for the first time.

Even though it's no longer known as the Tofurkey Trot – which is too bad, frankly – the Vegfest's 5K race is a nice start to a day that features cooking demos, cooking classes (including how to make a vegan "chicken finger" sub) as well as yoga, kids activities and a strong lineup of the city's vegan business owners.


Saint Christopher Summerfest, 5 to 11 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2 through 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 4 at 2660 Niagara Falls Blvd., Tonawanda. Free to attend.

We're in the thick of lawn fete season, and St. Chris' in Tonawanda is among the most anticipated. Stretching across the whole weekend, the Summerfest has an intriguing new trackless train ride ($4 for a seven-minute ride), entertainment from bands like Breakaway, Route 33, the Bone Shakers and West of the Mark, plus special events such as a fish fry on Friday, a 5K race on Saturday and wine sampling on Sunday. See the full schedule at St. Chris' website.

[Related: Look back at Smiles from Queen of Heaven Carnival in West Seneca]


Jack Craft Fair, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3 at the Outer Harbor (225 Fuhrmann Blvd.). No cost to attend.

A wide spectrum of artwork – from sculpture to soap-making to bookbinding – will be showcased by more than 100 vendors at the Outer Harbor for the Jack Craft Fair; there's even a list of participants to peruse in advance. (For what it's worth, we think the top three names are Puccoon Raccoon, Crackpot Crockery and one we can't print at a family newspaper).

There's no cost to wander the Outer Harbor for the fair, whose organizers' simple intent is to "fill the world with more art."


Thunder on the Niagara, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 4 at Gratwick Park (1300 River Road, North Tonawanda). Admission is a $10 parking fee, which comes with a free program.

Absorb the adrenaline of hydroplane racing this weekend as the Thunder on the Niagara booms in North Tonawanda. A highlight is the Grand Prix hydroplanes, the biggest and fastest of the event, and two locally run motorboats – the favorite, Steeler 777, and GP 50 – will be easy for curious local spectators to support.

Fireworks add spark to Saturday night, while food trucks and other food vendors will have a presence at Gratwick. Here's the weekend schedule for the 80th anniversary of the Niagara Frontier Boat Racing Association event.


Brews'n Blues Festival, 2 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3 at Hamburg Brewing Company (6553 Boston State Road, Hamburg). General admission is $15 in advance ($12.50 for Blues Society members), and $20 day-of ($17.50 for members).

The WNY Blues Society has teamed up with Hamburg Brewing to welcome two visiting blues bands – the Ghost Town Blues Band from Tennessee, and Ron Yarosz & the Vehicle from Erie, Pa. – plus the WNY Young Guns, whose presence bodes well for the future of local blues. The serene and spacious atmosphere of Hamburg Brewing's outdoor space will be put to good use, and food trucks will be on site to satisfy stomachs.


Drums Along the Waterfront, gates open at 5 p.m., show starts at 6:30 on Sunday, Aug. 4 at New Era Field (One Bills Drive, Orchard Park). Tickets begin at $29 and increase day of show.

The sights and sounds of Drums Along the Waterfront have entertained Buffalonians for decades, and 2019's International Tour of Champions stop at New Era Field reels in nine of the country's best drum and bugle corps, ranging in origin from Massachusetts to California.

The agility, strength, precision and cohesion of these high school and college-aged participants make this marching-band-esque event a spectacle, even if there's no hometown representative in the field.


5 quick-hitters to consider for this weekend

Save the Rhinos at Transit Lanes
Jamboree in the Woods in Springville
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra at Niawanda Park
Ulrich's 150+ anniversary block party
Nola Ranallo, Cages at Babeville


5 events to look forward to next week

• DBGB 9th anniversary
• Taste of Clarence
• Incubus at Canalside Live
• Beatles' rooftop tribute at Hydraulic Hearth
• Mayer Bros. opening day in West Seneca


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