The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) on Wednesday joined with Congressman Brian Higgins, Margaret Overdorf of the Valley Community Association, Tod Kniazuk of the Western New York Arts Services Initiative (ASI), entrepreneur Mark Goldman and representatives from Neto Hatinakwe Onkwehowe and the Hispanic Youth Music Project to launch the first season of summer programming along the Buffalo River and Ohio Street corridor. The venture is based on the model that has been successful in activating the Canalside district on the Inner Harbor, using a variety of events to attract crowds to a previously underutilized part of the city, with the ultimate goal of attracting private investment.
There will be more than 130 events this season, which begins Memorial Day Weekend with an event on the Buffalo River presented by Neto Hatinakwe Onkwehowe, and will continue through October with performances by the Hispanic Youth Music Project. The programming is built around several core ideas--culture and tradition; heritage; environment; art and industry--and each month a major event will explore one of these facets. Altogether, close to 50 local organizations and individuals will receive funding from ECHDC.
"The Buffalo River and the Ohio Street Corridor have been central to the story of Buffalo," said Empire State Development Regional President and Erie Canal Harbor Development Interim Chair Sam Hoyt. "ECHDC is proud to sponsor this inaugural season of events and activities, and we hope that Western New Yorkers take the opportunity to explore this unique community."
"When you put the public first you will get the best that Buffalo has to offer," said Congressman Brian Higgins. "With today's announcement of a vibrant, exciting extension of public programming along the River's edge, there will be even more for families, residents and visitors alike to attend, participate in and enjoy immensely. This is the summer to celebrate Buffalo's one waterfront."
"Thanks to ECHDC for providing this opportunity," said executive director Tod Kniazuk. "The Arts Services Initiative is proud to assist in developing our waterfront."
Highlights of the season include:
May 2012 - CULTURE/TRADITION
Buffalo Creek Cultural Canoe Paddle (presented by Neto Hatinakwe Onkwehowe)
This event features a canoe paddle ending at River Fest Park, where presentations including Native American dancers and storytellers, historical talks, and environmental displays will be held.
June 2012 - HERITAGE
Buffalo River Fest (presented by Valley Community Association)
June 15, 16, 17
A three day family event that will include a kids' area, shell rowing races, waterfront heritage tent, artist and craft vendors, a softball tournament, a river regatta, live entertainment, "Take Your Dad Father's Day Fishing Contest" and more.
July 2012 - ENVIRONMENT
Great Lakes Experience Festival (presented by The Great Lakes Experience)
A festival to educate the community about local natural resources, celebrate ecological success stories, and reinforce that everyone has a role in protecting the environment through live animal exhibits and educational games. This festival will feature over 45 participating environmental groups, including the New York Power Authority, Buffalo Zoo, US Coast Guard, Buffalo Museum of Science and Buffalo Audubon.
August 2012 - ART
City of Night (presented by Emerging Leaders in the Arts Buffalo) at Silo City
This event focuses on art, preservation and history through groups such as Green Options Buffalo (group bike ride), Preservation Buffalo Niagara, Painting for Preservation, Buffalo Expat Network and Buffalo's Young Professionals. Numerous arts and performance groups will offer presentations and displays, tours of the site (walking and water), music and entertainment, and projections on the grain elevators.
American Grain Reimagined (presented by Mark Goldman and Torn Space Theatre) at Silo City
A collaborative program that brings together UB's Department of Music, Buffalo State College's Communication Department, Torn Space Theatre, and the Nimbus Dance Ensemble to highlight and celebrate the Marine A grain elevator.
September 2012 - INDUSTRY
Industrial Heritage Festival (presented by the WNY Railway Historical Society)
September 21, 22, 23
This event will be hosted on the grounds of the Heritage Discovery Center (100 Lee Street) to celebrate Buffalo's rich industrial, transportation, and maritime heritage through the Steel Plant Museum displays, interactive presentations, entertainment and more.
October 2012 -CULTURE/TRADITION
Hispanic Youth Music Project (presented by the Hispanic Heritage Council of WNY)
September 14 and 28, October 12
In this music performance, students will focus on popular songs, rhythm and dance from select Hispanic/Latino countries. Students and teaching artists will expose the community to the diverse music of these Hispanic/Latino countries.
There will also be multiple events happening throughout the programming season including:
- Buffalo River Historic Boat Tours given by Excalibur Leisure Skills Center
- "Hands-on movie nights" from Squeaky Wheel Buffalo Media Resources Center
- Buffalo River Kayak Tours given by Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper
- Yoga and zumba classes at River Fest Park
- Pyromancy - The Art of Light Manipulation
- Historic Walking and Bike Tours of the Old 1st Ward
- Sketching and photography classes by Locust Street Neighborhood Art Classes
- Individual artist performance