After a cease-and-desist order from the Town of Cambria abruptly shortened their 2018 season, the Brachmanns had their work cut out if they wanted their rural attraction to return this year.
Like wineries, breweries and corn mazes in Cambria, Sunflowers of Sanborn has been forced to abide by a new zoning ordinance from the Town of Cambria, which now requires a special events permit for their late-summer schedule.
The fee, Louise said, is a flat $250 for the year, which could be prohibitive for a farm that will continue to host free events, such as this weekend's Crafters in the Field this weekend, Food in the Field Food Truck Festival on Aug. 31 and a Trunk or Treat in September.
"It was very frustrating at times," Louise said in regard to working with the town. "But we did come to a conclusion with them for this year."
Crafters in the Field, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18 at Sunflowers of Sanborn (3311 Saunders Settlement Road, Sanborn). The sunflowers may be explored for free from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily in August, with hours changing after Labor Day.
While the giant sunflowers in Sanborn are no longer novel and uber-trendy like in 2017, their peak season is short-lived and the vibrant plants still are considered a must-have Instagram photo backdrop for many Buffalonians.
New this year is five more acres – six in total – dedicated to sunflowers that may be cut ($1 apiece, cutters and wraps available), a balance to the six acres of sunflowers through which attendees may roam and snap photos. Ten sunflower varieties have been planted this year, including some that "don't even really look like sunflowers," Louise said.
Now fully abiding by the town's rules, the farm owners will again invite 50 artisans near the fields for a two-day event; see Smiles from last year's Crafters in the Field.
[Related: In quiet Cambria, winery boom ignites backlash from neighbors]
Reminder: The Erie County Fair runs through Aug. 18. There's a long list of events scheduled for the final weekend, including the Ultimate Night of Destruction (Aug. 17) and the World's Largest Demolition Derby (Aug. 18), both at the Gusto Grandstand.
Buffalo Sabres Fan Fest, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17 at Alumni Plaza at KeyBank Center. Free to attend.
While it's not easy to placate Sabres fans on Twitter, it's been a decent summer for Buffalo's hockey team. Priority No. 1 was getting star forward Jeff Skinner signed to a long-term deal but the additions of highly regarded draft pick Dylan Cozens, a few depth signings and the fact that no crucial pieces were lost – with Rasmus Ristolainen's future pending – offer encouragement ahead of the coming season, which begins Oct. 5.
In the meantime, Sabres fans can get back into hockey mode through the outdoor fan fest on Saturday, which is geared toward families. Kids will have their own chance to participate in a press conference with players, while alumni will be on hand to sign autographs, and jovial Sabretooth will amble about. The Strictly Hip and DJ Milk will handle the live music, and a Sabres 5K race will kick off the day's slate at 9 a.m.
$175 is a serious sum of money to pay to attend a concert, but in the country music genre, there are few bigger stars than Tim McGraw. Now almost two decades since he and Kenny Chesney caused a ruckus in the Southtowns, McGraw's recent visits have been much more positive; Jeff Miers dubbed him "lovable and a premier showman" when he dazzled KeyBank Center with his wife, Faith Hill, in 2017.
Hammer's House Party, 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16 at Seneca Niagara Casino outdoor venue (310 4th St., Niagara Falls). Tickets begin at $25 and go up to $125; four packs may be purchased for a reduced rate.
If you do a Google Image search for MC Hammer, you'll quickly realize that the man has a colorful style that's unabashedly his own. His wardrobe in many ways reflects his personality, but it's his talent – proved through three Grammy Awards and eight American Music Awards – that keeps fans buying tickets. He'll be joined by quite the entourage for Friday night's gig outside Seneca Niagara: Sir Mix-a-Lot ("Baby Got Back"), Sisqo ("Thong Song"), Tone Loc and Kid 'n Play.
Help support the fight against multiple sclerosis on Sunday near the shore of Lake Erie, where restaurant DOS. on the Lake hosts Change MS's Orange Affair. An open bar, food, basket raffles and a DJ are among the perks, in addition to the sublime waterfront view and fire pits.
Attendees are encouraged to wear orange, and orange bracelets will be available at the door for a $5 donation. Tickets were capped at $100 this year for a more intimate experience.
[Related: Smiles at the Masquerada Gala for Change MS]
BlackBird Summer Cider Festival IX, 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17 at the Cider Yard at BlackBird Cider Works (8503 Lower Lake Road, Barker). Tickets range from $15 for a standard tasting package to $25 for a deluxe package; see full details. Prices rise to $18/$28 day-of.
Roll to the northernmost reaches of Niagara County for BlackBird Cider's ninth annual summer festival, with apple season approaching soon.
The festival's premise is simple: standard tasting entitles the attendee to a tasting glass and eight samples, which may be used to try BlackBird ciders or a range of beers from area breweries, while the deluxe option includes eight tasting tickets and two, 12-ounce hard cider drafts. Lloyd Taco Truck will sell food on site.
[Related: Learn about BlackBird's Chandlerville project]
Oliver Street Art Festival, noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17 on Oliver Street between Robinson and Schenck streets. Free to attend.
There's some buzz around Oliver Street in North Tonawanda, thanks to the prospect of new business and the relocation of the city's history museum. The annual Oliver Street Art Festival – organized by Project 308 – is an annual celebration of local artisans, with a new record of 70 expected to attend Saturday.
Among the other perks are free beer samples from Flying Bison, food vendors such as the Cheesy Chick, coffee from Undergrounds, five different bands – including Alex McArthur Trio, about whom Miers just raved – playing hour slots and plenty of nearby businesses to explore.
Buffalo Bisons' Superhero Night, gates at 4 p.m., first pitch at 6:05 on Saturday, Aug. 17 at Sahlen Field (275 Washington St.). Single-game tickets are $14 in advance, $16.50 at the gate and a Superhero Pack (four tickets, four hot dogs, four Coca-Colas and a cape and shield) runs for $86. Full ticket details.
Thanks to Marvel and DC Comics, superheroes are red hot right now – for adults and kids alike. The Bisons' annual Superhero Night is a chance to dress up in costume, or even buy a cape and shield for $7 (a savvy Bisons merch move). Perhaps the Durham Bulls players will be distracted by the tiny Tony Starks, buzzing Wasps, agile Catwomen and more characters carousing around Sahlen Field.
Look back at James P. McCoy's photos from Superhero Night last year.
[Related: How to watch the Marvel Cinematic Universe]
Grown-Up Night of Play, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16 at the Explore & More Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Children's Museum at Canalside (130 Main St.). Cost is $35 in advance for general admission, or $40 at the door. VIP tickets cost $50 and allow attendees to stay beyond 9:30 p.m.
Sure, "children" is in the name of the new Explore & More at Canalside, but that doesn't mean enjoyment is exclusive to them. Adults get a chance to wander the two-story hot spot by the Canals, with activities such as wine-glass painting, a DIY barbecue dry rub class, samples from Tommyrotter Distillery, live music on the rooftop terrace and a chance to explore all of the museum's present attractions.
The Sheila Divine at Party FOR the Portico, doors at 5 p.m., music at 6 until 9 on Friday, Aug. 16 at the Buffalo History Museum (One Museum Court). Tickets are $15 for members, $25 general admission; full details.
Hamburg native Aaron Perrino returns home for a special gig with his band, the Sheila Divine, outside the History Museum on Friday, as the hosts continue to raise money for the restoration of the portico, a $3.3 million project aided by a state grant.
In addition to a two-hour set, mini tours of the construction work will be available, as well as a special beer as well as a cash bar featuring a special beer – the 1862 Cream Ale – brewed by Buffalo Brewing Company (more recently than 1862).
5 quick-hitters to know for this weekend
• Santana at Darien Lake Amphitheater
• Bark in the Park at Hoyt Lake
• Cocktail City 4.0 in Hydraulic Hearth
• Scottish Festival at BN Heritage Village
• Woodstock 50th Anniversary at 12 Gates Brewing
5 events to look forward to for next week