In the BUF

Words and pictures by Nancy J. Parisi.

The pull of live music – and a budding “Buffalo crush” – brought massage therapist Julie O’Connor to the third annual Cobblestone Live event from her hometown of Toronto. Walking along Mississippi Street and sipping a BlackBird Cider Works cider (“Delicious!”), Julie shared details of her music-packed weekend in the Queen City with In the BUF.“I love Buffalo. Buffalo has this eclectic energy, people are very sociable and some of the bars we’ve gone to have a gritty vibe.”

Julie and friend Tony made it to Gabriel’s Gate Restaurant, Nine29 and Misuta Chow’s before hitting the Cobblestone District.

“We went to the Elmwood Village Farmers Market this morning, and I shopped for clothes on Elmwood at Red Siren. Last night we saw a concert at Darien Lake,” she said, before adding, “Buffalo is not what I expected. This city is really lovely, there is something very special about it here, an openness. Toronto people are not as friendly, and it’s more rushed. I love looking at all the colorful homes here and the porches are great. I am enjoying Buffalo!”

We ran into Cindy Murphy of Butler, Pennsylvania, and her husband, Tom, and son, Dylan, strolling the streets at Garden Walk Buffalo. Tom was in charge of the extensive map, and the family was impressed that the event had gotten even larger than their last visit two years ago.

“We’ve been to Buffalo four times for this,” says Cindy. “We first heard about Garden Walk seven or eight years ago from an article in our local paper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.”

Deep in Elmwood Village along Highland Avenue, the family was heading to one of their favorite gardens on West Ferry. “We’ve always focused on this area around West Delavan, we love the Victorian homes,” says Cindy.

And what was the family planning for the rest of their day in Buffalo? “We want to hit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House for our first time,” says Tom. They also were intrigued by the place they’d passed on the I-190 that “has all the colorful, hanging plants on their patios.” When told that’s Pearl Street Grill & Brewery, they say they’re adding it to their itinerary.

“We should mention,” Tom says as they head to another garden, “that Cindy has a Garden Walk sticker on her car, always.”

IntheBUF-June-23-2016

We ran into Kim, of Mulmur Township, Ontario, rocking around Artpark before a concert. Kim loved Lewiston, saying “I’m impressed with this quaint town, it’s very artsy and there are so many great shops.” Kim visits Buffalo for Sabres games and the amazing modern and contemporary art at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. “It’s so intimate, all the art is right there,” she says. “I’m so impressed with the collection. I’ve been there twice and have also brought students from Orangeville, Ontario where I teach to see it. One of my favorite pieces at Albright-Knox is a (Joan) Miro painting. I have plans to return to Artpark … and to the gallery!”

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We spotted Kevin, Jennifer and Kaylynn from Mebane, North Carolina at City Hall, climbing the observation deck steps on a hazy summer afternoon, marveling at the Art Deco building’s architectural flourishes. “We like history,” Kevin says. “We were just in the Common Council chambers, the stained glass in there, on the ceiling, is amazing – it’s a giant sun,” says Jennifer. “We took a boat tour yesterday, a River History Tour, which gives you a great understanding of why Buffalo is here,” Kevin mentions. About their next stop, the Pierce Arrow Museum, he says, “I like cars and we saw that they have a Frank Lloyd Wright gas station inside, so we had to go. We have a kind of Frank Lloyd Wright angle to our trip, so we are visiting the Darwin Martin House tomorrow.” “If we had more time, we would love to cram more into a week-long visit,” adds Jennifer.

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John and Michelle, of Jupiter, Florida, were spotted merrily shopping their way up and down the aisles of Vidler’s 5 & 10 in East Aurora. Michelle’s mom lives in Western New York and Michelle lived in East Aurora until she was eight. “I just ate my first beef on weck at Bar Bill down the street,” John says. “It was awesome! It was great! It was more than I expected. It was gone before I could put horseradish on it,” he says, laughing. “Bar Bill is our family hot spot, it’s our first stop when I get here,” Michelle says. The couple also visited Emery Park and John marvels at the landscape. “Everything is so green and hilly and rocky. We have palm trees and sandy beaches. That’s the highlight of here, the nature, the outside. You can come here for the weather and atmosphere, any season.” Has John been to East Aurora in winter? “I’ve been in snow up to my ankles, at most, in Georgia,” he says. “I want to experience deep snow!”

IntheBUF-July-18-2016

Janice and Ken of Niagara Falls, Ontario hit the Italian Heritage Festival on Hertel Avenue in North Buffalo for three distinct reasons: “the food, the atmosphere, the freebies.” Asked what they had seen so far, Janice says “cooking demos, and we went to a wine tasting.” “It’s so old-school,” Ken says, “like the C.N.E. (Canadian National Exhibition) used to be forty years ago.” The couple were anxious to watch the grape stomping display. “We will try it if they let us,” says Janice. Are there any festivals like this in Ontario? “Nothing like this at all,” Janice responds. “There is Club Italia,” Ken says, “but it’s a private club, nothing for outsiders. I love that this is so old-school, how they close off the street for the festival.”

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Ilana and her two young children were spotted playing on the large Lego wall on Old Falls Street USA next to the Conference and Event Center in Niagara Falls. The trio were spelling out their names and making fun shapes. Ilana and family had ridden the Maid of the Mist earlier in the afternoon. “My son loved it, she was terrified.” Ilana says that a woman gave them a hot tip regarding the raincoats for the Maid of the Mist: “she told us that it’s so hot that the raincoats should be avoided. That is not a good hot tip…wear the raincoats!” On this day trip to Niagara Falls from their home in Brighton, a suburb of Rochester, the family members had driven through Lewiston and eaten at the Brickyard Pub & BBQ. About Niagara Falls and the surrounding attractions Ilana remarks, and wants all parents to know, “It’s pretty easy to get around with a stroller, there are elevators everywhere.”

 InTheBUF-August-1-2016

Cindy, Craig, Noah and Zachary were taking in Garden Walk Buffalo for the day, visiting from Pittsford, New York, a Rochester suburb. “We actually were supposed to come with my parents and do a boat tour at Erie Basin Marina,” says Cindy, “then we heard about Garden Walk.” “We saw a decent amount of gardens,” adds Craig, “Summer Street was really neat, one of our favorites. We saw twenty or twenty-five gardens.” When asked if they would do Garden Walk again Cindy answers: “Yes, we had no idea the scope of it. We looked at the website this morning, it’s bigger than we thought. The docent on the bus told us that it’s the largest garden walk in the country.” “It’s so overwhelming,” says Craig, “I would suggest coming up with a way to create zones and letting people know ‘If you have X amount of time, go here.’ I would also love to have biked it, maybe with rental bikes.” After enjoying the views of Kleinhans Music Hall and Symphony Circle, the family headed off to Canalside to meet Cindy’s parents for dinner.