Building a Vibe at Borderland
Jen Brazill had a career working on West Coast music festivals before moving back home to the charming village of East Aurora, a short 30-minute drive from Buffalo, to launch what has become new outdoor music tradition at Knox Farm State Park: the three-day Borderland Festival with three stages featuring Americana, rock, country, folk and bluegrass at a former estate known for its horses and polo field.
“We took the vibe of the park with its split rail fences and big rolling hills, tons of green space and we really just built around that,” said Brazill.
The festival grounds surround the stables on about 12 acres of the 633-acre park. It has evolved organically since its 2017 beginnings. The three-day affair draws about 15,000 concertgoers — from day visitors to people who stay for the entire festival and camp out nearby. (Kissing Bridge Ski Resort, 15 miles away, offers spots for tents and RVs.) Music starts at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 15, and continues through about 8 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 17. For $80, people can buy “any day” tickets good for any of the three days. A full weekend pass for all three days $159. A limited number of VIP tickets, $279, include access to a private bar and private bathrooms, snacks, coffee and other perks.
A kids area, free to children 10 and under who are accompanied by an adult, has face painting, hula hoops, arts and crafts and banjos, guitars and ukuleles on hand for impromptu play.
Signature elements include Borderland’s zero-waste approach — no plastics, all compostable products and free water for filling water bottles.
The emphasis is local. There are seven Buffalo breweries, 40 craft vendors, support for 10 nonprofits and a stage devoted to local bands.
Brazill has been amazed at how the festival seems to be helping the Buffalo step into the national limelight. She’s been pleased to see that the “scrappy, little underdog” of a city and region that she knew growing up has legions of Borderland regulars coming to the festival every September.
Brazill, a fifth-generation East Auroran, described her home this way: “Once you get here and you learn it, you understand how amazing it is. How many layers there are to it. How the people are so salt of the earth … I really try to bring that out in the vibe of our festival.”
Borderland Music + Arts Festival takes place September 15-17, 2023 at Knox Farm State Park in East Aurora.