Feed Your Patriotic Soul at Lively Summer Events
by Jeff Cole
While passing through any residential area in the United States, one might be oblivious to Old Glory jutting forth from a flagpole outside one or many houses.
But on certain occasions, such as Memorial Day, Veterans Day and the Fourth of July, the American flag appears ubiquitous. It can be found seemingly everywhere, from flagpoles to pins to T-shirts.
Unlike Memorial Day and Veterans Day, which are days solemnly observed for honoring past and present U.S. soldiers, the Fourth of July is a time to consider that which the United States was founded for. It is what the American flag proudly symbolizes and has done so, though not without alteration, since the country was in its embryonic stages: Independence.
Once again, this Fourth of July, the American flag will retain its omnipresent quality and fly proudly high while families all across the nation gather for cookouts, parades, concerts and fireworks displays in the spirit of celebrating America’s independence. One might be hard-pressed to find any better place for a wide range of family-friendly fun this Fourth of July weekend than in and around Ellicottville, which celebrated its 175th year as a village April 3.
Summer Music Festival: June 29–July 1
Like fireworks, the weekend will begin with a bang when the Summer Music Festival starts at 7 p.m. today with Steel Keys and Brass opening on Holiday Valley’s slopeside main stage for Sister Hazel, who will perform at 9 p.m. The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (B.P.O.) will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, followed by fireworks, which can be viewed from many area vantage points and will accompany the “1812 Overture” and “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” Stinger will open at 7 p.m. Sunday for the final musical act, The Guess Who, who will play at 9 p.m.
Tickets, which can be purchased at the gate or online at www.ellicottvilleny.com, are $30 for Sister Hazel, $30 and $35 for the BPO and The Guess Who.
The weekend will also include an arts and crafts show from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on Jefferson Street, the annual pet parade at 11 a.m. Saturday on Washington Street, entertainment in the gazebo from 2-5 p.m. Saturday and a Strawberry Festival sponsored by the Ellicottville Historical Society from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Music in the Gazebo Series: June 30–Aug. 9
Kicking off this year’s Music in the Gazebo series, which will run from 7-9 p.m. every Thursday through Aug. 9 after Saturday’s premier, will be the classic/Southern rock cover band The Midnight Riders. Tim Brown, who plays the Hammond organ and provides some vocals for the group, said he feels great about being the series’ opening act. The band will play from 2-5 p.m.
“We love playing. We played up there two other times. We’ve never been part of the actual series. Before, we played on July Fourth weekend, but it was always on a Friday afternoon and there weren’t nearly as many people up there, but this time we’re playing on a Saturday,” he said, adding that he hopes for a good crowd this time while playing at the gazebo.
Raccoon Rally: June 30–July 1
For cycling enthusiasts, the Raccoon Rally will be held Saturday and Sunday at Allegany State Park in Salamanca and will include four different cycling events: the Road Race (9:30 a.m. Saturday at Camp Allegany), the Bike Trials (10 a.m. Saturday at Thunder Rocks), the Cross-Country Race (10 a.m. Sunday at Camp Allegany) and the Kids Race, which will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Camp Allegany infield. The cost to participate in the first three events is $30, while the Kids Race is free.
Freedom Daze Spectacular and Demolition Derby: July 3–4
An event that will occur closer to and on Independence Day is the Freedom Daze Spectacular and Demolition Derby at the Little Valley Speedway, 501 Erie St. The cost to attend the Spectacular, which will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, will be $25 for pit passes, $14 for adults and free for ages 12 and under. Admission for the Demolition Derby, which will be held at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, will be $8 for adults and free for ages 8 and under. Gates will open at 3 p.m. for the Demolition Derby and at 4 p.m. for the Spectacular, which will feature hot laps at 6 p.m.
Ellicottville Championship Rodeo: July 5–7
Last, but certainly not least, is the Ellicottville Championship Rodeo, which will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday through next Saturday and at 2 p.m. July 8 at 6319 Sommerville Valley Rd. The cost to attend is $17 for ages 13 and up, $9 for ages 12 and under, while children under age 5 are free. Tickets can be purchased online at www.ellicottvillerodeo.com or at the gate. Gates will open two hours before each show time and nine events will be shown each day: bareback bronc riding, saddle bronc riding, calf roping, team roping, team penning, junior bull riding, steer wrestling, girls’ barrel-racing and big-bull riding.
While celebrating America’s independence is obviously important, it’s also fun, especially when it’s done with friends and family members. Charles Coolidge, mayor of the Village of Ellicottville, said that so many events taking place in and around Ellicottville this weekend through Independence Day is positive.
“I think it’s good for the community,” he said. “You’ve got the (Buffalo) Philharmonic (Orchestra) up there to Holiday Valley and you’ve got bands throughout the village. I think it’s a good thing. I think it’s positive.”