If there is one thing that we should learn about Winter Festivals in Buffalo, it’s that they don’t all have to be giant in size. Over the years I have been involved with running some winter festivals, and the push is always to be the biggest, in order to attract the most people, thus making the a big splash.
Yesterday Larkinville held its inaugural Ice Festival, and the scene was somewhat reminiscent of a winter’s weekend in Ellicottville. The Hydraulic Hearth was packed, but still comfortable. We enjoyed the live music, and the art installation featuring Sweet Peggy O’Neil, an actress who hailed from Larkinville (rise to stardom circa 1920).
Outside in the square, visitors to Ice Fest could be found happily eating at picnic tables, enjoying various dishes from the food trucks (including The Flaming Fish).
There were Kan-Jam games in progress (a disc game that is made in Buffalo), as well as a man-made sledding hill that was a huge hit with the kids (of all ages). A number of people were also playing Pickle Ball on the designated courts.
On the way to the Flying Bison Brewery, we ran across the gang from Buffalo Pedal Tours as they embarked upon one of their many journeys to the brewery and back. The pedal pub appeared to be a big hit with revelers (21+) who could be heard hooting and hollering all over the district.
Once we arrived at Flying Bison (a short walk) we found a number of ice carvers who were busy demonstrating their prowess for onlookers. Inside the brewery we were met with a throng of people who were having a grand old time.
Brewery founder Tim Herzog was in his glory, serving up flights of beer, pints and growlers as quickly as he could manage.
The crowd was in a festive mood, making for a rather fun stay. Even Ethan Cox, co-founder of Community Beer Works, was on-hand signing copies of his new book, History of Brewing in the Nickel City.
During the outing (we stayed for eight hours), we ran into Larkinville’s Director of Fun, Leslie Zemsky, who told us that everything was running smoothly and according to plan. The idea was to create a scene that was organic, and family-friendly, utilizing many of the charming assets that the district features throughout the spring, summer and fall.
Larkinville is perfectly situated to host these types of events, without having to over think the process. The result? A fun-filled day with lots to see, do, eat and drink. I probably should have cut my visit short by a couple of hours, but was having way too much fun to think about next day consequences (a bit “groggier” than I would like to be on Super Bowl Sunday).
I’m already looking forward to next year’s Ice Festival, and am extremely happy to have another winter indoor/outdoor event to add to my calendar. You just can’t have too many of these types of events in Buffalo.
The only real issue that I had with the Ice Fest is that we couldn’t make it around fast enough to catch the whole show!