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SALAMANCA – As the leaves change colors, the 36th annual Falling Leaves Festival will grace Jefferson Street Park this weekend.

Started as a way to promote the culture of the Seneca Nation of Indians, as well as the relationship between the nation and the City of Salamanca, the celebration will have a cultural aspect with demonstrations of Seneca arts, food and entertainment.

This year’s festival had started with a move to Allegany State Park, as offered by the Salamanca Chamber of Commerce. But, a presentation to the residents of the city, as well as the members of the Common Council, resulted in public outcry and Mayor Carmen Vecchiarella taking action.

Vecchiarella and City Council members took matters into their own hands to keep the festival in the city.

“This is something that gives the city an identity,” he said at the July meeting. “We have to keep it here for the benefit of the people of the city and for the merchants that rely on it every year.”

The event kicks off at 10 a.m. Saturday with a cancer awareness walk in Vets Park on Broad Street. Registration for the walk is set for 9 a.m.

The festival starts at 11 a.m. Saturday, closing for the day at 7 p.m. Sunday will have an opening of 11 a.m. and a closing of 5 p.m.

Throughout the weekend, Main Street will be lined with classic cars and other vehicles, which will take over the historic downtown area of the city, from Atlantic to River Streets. Travelers may want to reroute, as Main Street will be closed for the festival.

Jefferson Street Park will be filled with food vendors, selling their wares to festivalgoers. Children will be able to enjoy bounce houses and a petting zoo, as well. Much of the entertainment will be free, at no cost to taxpayers, according to information from city officials.

On Sunday, the annual parade will take place on Main Street, starting near the historic Dudley Hotel and moving south along Main Street. The route will take the parade units to the intersection of Main and Broad streets, turning west and proceeding to the Simon Bolivar Triangle Park at High Street, where it will dissolve. Units are expected to line up around 2 p.m. with the parade to follow shortly thereafter.

Visitors to the festival can find the event by traveling:

From the west – Follow I-86 to Exit 20. Turn left off the ramp, onto Broad Street. Follow Broad Street through the city. Jefferson Street Park is near the intersection of Main and Broad streets.

From the North – Follow Route 219 south into the city. At the junction of Broad Street and Route 417, turn right. Follow that road over the bridge. At the light, Jefferson Street Park will be on the left, just past the drugstore.

From the east – Follow I-86 to Exit 21. Turn right off the ramp. Take a left at the intersection with Broad Street and Route 417. Jefferson Street Park will be on the left, just past the drugstore at the light.