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Gusto

At a meat raffle, you get more than a chance at steaks and sausage. You get a chance to step back to the Paleo era. Surely this entertainment dates to prehistoric times. Folks gather in a hall, quaff ale, and spend cash on raffle tickets in hopes of winning steaks, pork loins and sausage. Meat raffles originated, so scholars say, in Britain's pubs. Over the las…

Gusto

History is hot in Buffalo. You need water to cool it down. Which is where the Buffalo River History Tours come in. They are as much a part of Buffalo's waterfront as the big Labatt beer cans. The River Queen, the tour's original craft, holds 48 passengers and handled many of the tours before Memorial Day. Now that summer is in full swing, the main tour boat is the Ha…

Attractions

Niagara Falls, Ont., has its own wild wings. Thousands of them, in countless different colors. They are all fluttering around at the Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory. Opened in 1996, the conservatory has more than 2,000 tropical butterflies from more than 60 different species, flying about in a climate-controlled greenhouse. Since butterflies have short life span…

Gusto

It's Buffalo's Mount Rushmore. It is a monument to our past and our future. The giant six-pack of Labatt Blue at Riverworks on the Buffalo River is a landmark the likes of which the world has never seen. Beneath those cans is a beer garden. When the weather warms, it is quite a place to toast the summer. Think of it -- you can not only admire those giant cans, you ca…

Amherst

There is one place in Buffalo where the stars always line up right. Since the 1960s, the planetarium at Williamsville North High School has been orienting us to the stars in the heavens. Recently refurbished, it is state of the art, up to any video presentation or light show. Its resident celebrity, nicknamed Jake, goes back to the '60s. Jake is a kind of globe that sit…

Gusto

Like a drive-in theater, a roller rink is something to treasure. Especially an old-time roller rink, with a genuine wooden floor. Such a paradise is the Rainbow Rink in North Tonawanda. It was opened in 1949 by two couples, Elmer and Mary Batt and Herbert and Ella Bale. It is currently owned by the Bales' grandson, Maurice Cooper, along with his wife and son. They al…

Buffalo

When the ice boom is lifted, it's spring. Even if it doesn't feel like it, we have, at last, the cold, hard proof. So has it been since 1964, when the boom was installed. The boom, in case you're new here, is a series of 15- to 30-foot long steel pontoons stretching 8,800 feet across Lake Erie at the mouth of the Niagara River. Its job is to keep ice from floating from …

Gusto

When Easter arrives, a Buffalonian's mind turns to thoughts of Krupnik. The honeyed liqueur, beloved in Poland, has conquered Buffalo thanks largely to Dyngus Day, the big Polish festival Easter Monday that celebrates the end of Lent. So big is Krupnik around here that a few years ago, in a calamity that still makes people shudder, we ran out. That shouldn't happen a…

Attractions

Going to a trampoline park requires a leap of faith. Especially if you're a grown-up. I felt funny, heading for Get Air Buffalo Trampoline Park in Cheektowaga. I had bounced on trampolines before, if not exactly recently. A friend had a trampoline, and I had a great time bouncing on it with her little kids. But isn't that who trampolines are for? Kids? Well, I tol…

Family

It's time to say goodbye to winter, even if winter won't say goodbye to us. To taste — literally — the first sweet stirrings of spring. To trek to a maple sugar shack. Dozens of sugar shacks, large and small, are hidden in the rolling hills around Buffalo. If you don't know where to start, a good choice is Moore's Maple Shack Pancake House in the hamlet of Freedom, l…

Attractions

The internet be darned. Books live. Many of them live right here in Buffalo, at Old Editions Book Shop & Cafe. It is one of the nation's great bookstores. It is amazing considering its size how it has floated around. Owner Ron Cozzi founded it in 1976 on Hertel Avenue, and then it went to Allentown, then to University Heights, and currently is in downtown Buffalo…

Attractions

You know those ice bikes you see gliding around the ice at Canalside? They are moving into the fast lane. Made only in Buffalo, they can now be found in Rochester, Vancouver, British Columbia, and, most recently, in Green Bay, Wis., at the request of the Green Bay Packers. They have been celebrated by National Geographic. But how many of us here have experienced this…