There are so many reasons to be excited about summer in Western New York, leading off with the faint possibility that it might not snow for a few months.
But right after that is the bounty of things to do that we are presented with each year. If you wanted to, you could see multiple outdoor concerts each week and experience multiple outdoor festivals and fairs each weekend.
Unfortunately, life tends to get in the way of all this fun and we have to pick and choose how we will spend our recreation time and money.
That leads to a question: If you could pick only one thing, the thing you are most looking forward to this summer, what would it be?
It also led to this story.
Over the next week, you have a chance to vote online on which summer favorites in Western New York you are most anticipating, culminating with a vote on the one event or concert that you consider the biggest and best of the summer. To do this, Gusto stole the bracket approach used to great success by the NCAA for the annual 68-team basketball tournament that has come to be known as March Madness. We’re calling our 32-event version Summer Madness. (What we lack in originality, we make up for in earnestness.)
Here’s how it will work:
Voting was held online earlier at buffalo.com for two preliminary events, Primus and Fishbone doublebill (June 22 at Gratwick Park) vs. Sarah McLachlan (July 14 at Artpark); and Fresh Beat Band (Aug. 27 at Darien Lake) vs. Kings of Leon (Aug. 19 at Darien Lake). The winners – McLachlan and Kings of Leon – were placed in the final bracket as 15 and 16 seeds.
Voting is now underway for our Summer Madness. The winning event/concert will be featured in Gusto on June 12.
First round voting ends at noon Friday, May 30. Second round voting is from 1 p.m. May 30 to noon Monday, June 2. Third round voting is from 1 p.m. June 2 to noon Thursday, June 4. Semifinal voting begins at 1 p.m. June 4 and ends at noon Friday, June 5. Final voting begins at 1 p.m. June 5 and ends at noon Monday, June 9.
Vote for your favorites here.
To answer the questions you might have asked:
Q: Who picked the candidates?
A: Just like the NCAA, we have a selection committee that looked over all the choices for the summer and then winnowed the list until we came up with 18 concerts and 16 events. Also like the NCAA, we had to leave out some candidates that probably are worthy.
Q: Why did you pick more concerts?
A: There were too many worthy candidates.
Q: How did you decide what to include?
A: We tried to pick a variety in both categories that reflected how popular the event has been or was expected to be; difference in styles (from a mega-event like Bruno Mars at First Niagara Center to a more niche-event like Jam in the Valley); geographic and venue diversity (Darien Lake to Gratwick Park to Hamburg); and “x factors” (things that we knew we had to include because if we didn’t, someone would yell at us or post nasty things about us on Facebook).
Q: Why do concerts meet events in the Final only?
A: No mathematical reason, but it felt more fair to do it that way.
Q: The Queen of Heaven Carnival? Really?
A: There’s no denying that church carnivals, lawn fetes and fire department field days are huge around here, but they generally pale in comparison to the other events. However, the carnival at Queen of Heaven in West Seneca is generally considered at the top of that particular pyramid.
Q: Where do you vote?
A: At buffalo.com, Home of Gusto. We also will post links on Twitter.
Q: How many times can you vote?
A: You can probably figure out a way to vote as often as you’d like, but we ask that you cast one vote per poll.
Q: Will this become an annual event?
A: Ask us next year.