If anyone tells you there’s nothing to do this weekend, slap him over the head with an Italian sausage.
Or an ear of corn. Or whatever you can find at one of the many festivals taking place across the region.
Whether you’re in Buffalo or Barker, Elmwood or Eden, there’s a whole lot going on from now through Sunday.
You might just be able to do it all in one day – if you have a plan. That’s right – 12 festivals in 12 hours. Covering 154 miles. It can be done. (We think.)
Start in downtown Buffalo on Main Street, where kids are doing what countless officials couldn’t: breathing life back into the 500 block.
Chalk in hand, the artists are treating the 6- by 6-foot sidewalk squares as their own personal canvasses.
It’s all part of Chalkfest Buffalo, an annual event meant to revitalize the downtrodden thoroughfare – at least for a weekend.
If you thought that was quirky, then get ready for the Buffalo Infringement Festival farther north in Allentown.
You’ll see oddball artists, underground acts and street parties like no other, coupled with live music and bar crawlers all day long.
Taking place simultaneously is an art event that couldn’t be more different from the Infringement.
The more buttoned-up side of Allentown will be on display at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site on Delaware Avenue, where those who missed the popular art festival can see a smaller gallery of historic Allentown figures.
“Everyone will find somewhere on the wall a piece that they think of as being what makes Allentown special,” said Jonathan White, vice president of the Allentown Association.
Like the five paintings and wax sculptures of “Chas the Bubble Man,” the semi-famous Allentown figure who runs the bubble machine above Jim’s Steakout.
Trust us: He’s a hero around here, and the paintings are spot on.
OK, the morning is over, so let’s grab lunch at the Buffalo Italian Heritage Festival, which has to be the headliner of this so-called Buffalo Festival Weekend.
The dates changed from last year, but the food is as tasty as ever.
“Don’t eat before you come,” warned Tamela King of Buffalo, who was digging into a heaping plate of stuffed meatballs, macaroni and cheese with sausage, pancetta and, of course, a deep-fried pepper stuffed with sausage.
She brought along a friend to carry her dessert of fried dough, funnel cakes and cotton candy.
“We’ve only been here for an hour, but I tried everything,” King said.
Further down Hertel Avenue, the Delmontes were scarfing down tomato sauce and tripe.
“It’s cow’s intestines, but it’s delicious,” said Dottie Delmonte.
“You have to be Italian,” clarified her husband, Paul.
Don’t come here if you’re on the new Weight Watchers routine, because the whole festival could be summed up in one word: Mangia!
True Italian die-hards should also head up to Niagara Falls, which has brought back its Italian festival.
Lord knows why the festival ever went away, but it’s back in full force this year.
Pine Avenue will include a strip of local vendors, a spaghetti-eating contest and even a bocce tournament.
If all these people in tank tops, short shorts and other apparel best suited to private dwellings have you thinking about the Erie County Fair, don’t worry – you don’t have to wait a week for that kind of fun.
The Niagara County Fair has been running all week and closes out today and Sunday with plenty of rides and even a flying border collie.
After that, Erie County will be calling you back, so head on down to the Taste of Williamsville, where Island Park will be jam-packed with people still riding high from the Old Home Days event last week.
If you like pies, this is your event. Judges will decide who has the best overall pie, the best fruit pie, the most original pie and the most attractive pie.
All right, time for a good old-fashioned lawn fete.
Head on over to Resurrection Roman Catholic Church in Cheektowaga for the annual Resurrection Outdoor Festival.
A parish secretary guarantees there will be rides, games and “all the things at a usual lawn fete.” If that includes bell jar/pull tabs, then it’s just what we’re looking for.
Now it’s time to clear your head and get out into southern Erie County.
But what can we possibly see at the Eden Corn Festival that we haven’t seen before?
Nothing, organizers of the 50th annual festival say. That’s what’s great about it.
In fact, that’s the secret to the corn’s success: It has been cooked in the same four steel kettles for the past 50 years.
“The kettles are well-seasoned,” said festival director Chris Colvin. “The more you cook in there, the sweeter it is.”
But we didn’t take their word for it. A little investigative eating revealed that the corn is, as Colvin put it, “the best you’ll ever taste.”
In all, 32,000 ears of corn will pass through the mouths of festivalgoers this weekend – enough to stretch five country miles.
A more disheartening figure is 850 pounds – that’s the amount of butter that will be slathered all over the corn.
This aw-shucks spirit is hard to shake, so we’re heading over to the Down Home Country Weekend and Langford Tractor Pull in North Collins.
The jamboree and concert takes place today, and one artist’s hit song sums up the spirit of this day quite well: “I can sleep when I’m dead.”
Sunday features the Western New York Championship Truck & Tractor Pull, and you haven’t seen a tractor until you’ve seen these bad boys.
One is shaped like a Zamboni machine. Another looks like a hot rod. Oh, and they’re capable of popping wheelies, too.
The Cattaraugus County Fair beckons us south, but there’s not enough time to get down there before dark. Maybe Sunday.
After all, we’re starting to feel those six Italian sausages we had for lunch. Two Italian festivals will do that to you.
We’ll head west to the shores of Lake Erie for the final festival, a beach party Sunday at Mickey Rats dubbed CityJam.
Ten bucks gets you admission, food and live bands on the beach. But after a day of traipsing across Western New York, we’re looking forward to something else: a seat.