And then there were four.
In the semifinal rounds of Summer Madness, it will be the rock band from Buffalo against the pop singer who disappointed Buffalo and a celebration of the world’s greatest writer against America’s Fair.
Your votes will determine which of these events is the most anticipated of the summer: Justin Timberlake on July 9 in First Niagara Center; the Goo Goo Dolls on Aug. 22 at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center; Shakespeare in Delaware Park, June 19-July 13 and July 24-Aug. 17; or the Erie County Fair from Aug. 6 to 17.
The conclusion did not come without some controversy, courtesy of the obviously-adored Queen of Heaven Carnival in West Seneca.
The fair led the carnival throughout the two days of round three voting, but Queen of Heaven was coming on strong all Wednesday morning. When the polls closed at noon, the fair had barely kept its lead, 537-495. But some people continued to cast votes and appeared to push the carnival into the lead.
However, because the polls officially closed at noon, it was too late.
Shakespeare similarly was never able to put any distance between its round three competitor, the Allentown Art Festival. But when the votes were cast, the annual celebration of the Bard emerged with the win, 370-356.
The contests in the concert categories were never that close.
It would have been easy to assume a backlash against Timberlake was possible, after illness forced him to cancel his February performance at the First Niagara Center. But he famously appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and promised to make it up to his fans. That apparently was enough for Summer Madness voters, who pushed him into the semis with a victory over Aretha Franklin’s Artpark appearance on July 22, 325-200.
Finally, there is apparently no end to the appetite fans have for hometown rockers the Goo Goo Dolls. The band already has played in Western New York twice this year – once at Seneca Niagara Casino, once at the North Park Theatre. Even so, the group’s appearance at Darien Lake proved more popular among voters than the June 30 Bruno Mars show at First Niagara Center, by a vote of 325-195.
Voting continues at buffalo.com through noon Thursday. The winner will be profiled next week in Gusto.