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Batavia Downs Offers A Bevy of Fun Fall Activities

Fall promises to be a busy season at Batavia Downs, with a robust line-up of special events in addition to its year-round offerings of live horse racing, gaming, and dining.

The Batavia Downs horse track originally opened in 1940. As the sport waned in popularity, the track fell on hard times in later years. In 1999 it was purchased by Off Track Betting and in 2005 it expanded into the destination it is today, combining its legacy attraction of live horse racing with a small casino that has since grown, restaurants, and a hotel and events space.

“Now it feels like a mini Las Vegas,” said Ryan Hasenauer, Director of Marketing. “We have Thurman’s sports bar to watch games, harness racing in the late summer, fall, and early winter, a hotel with great event space, and four great restaurants.”

For those wanting to make a day of it, Batavia Downs is just a 45-minute drive from Buffalo. The horse racing is a signature event to check out, especially if you’ve never experienced the environment at a racetrack before. Twilight races take place on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings from October through mid-December.

“There’s a lot of excitement any time you have people placing wagers,” Hasenauer said. “The second the horses come around the track there’s adrenaline pumping and people cheering. It’s a very festive atmosphere with a lot of excitement and hope in the air. Our Clubhouse is open on select nights to oversee the racetrack, with tiered seating so you can see over the people in front of you to watch the race.”

The casino offers a variety of events and contests for player’s club members, which they promote daily on their social media. Batavia Downs is a public benefit corporation owned by the 15 counties and two major cities in Western New York, and each of those entities has a representative. From its casino earnings, the corporation makes a contribution to the general fund of those counties and cities on a quarterly basis.

It’s a unique situation because any money you lose at Batavia Downs goes back to the place where you live. If you lose money at the Fairgrounds, for example, it goes back to the owners at Delaware North. We’re giving money back to the entities that are plowing roads, providing police and fire departments.

Batavia Downs also has a hotel and event spaces for those looking for a space to host a wedding, conference, or corporate event. The venue hosts a variety of live concerts and specialty events throughout the year. They have several lined up for the duration of 2021, detailed below.


Vodka Gin Festival

Saturday, October 2
4:00-7:00 p.m.
This event will feature 15 different vodka and gin vendors offering three hours of sampling in the Park Place Events Center, as well as some full-sized cocktails. Guests can also enjoy free play at the casino and stay to watch the horse races after the festival. This event is limited to guests age 21 and over and guests must show ID. A portion of all proceeds will go to the City of Batavia Firefighters Benevolent Association as they partner with “Operation Warm” which will provide brand new coats to children in need in Batavia, NY.

Marsha McWilson Concert

October 14, 7:00 p.m.
Motown fans will love this performance by Niagara Falls Music Hall of Fame inductee Marsha McWilson, who will give a powerful tribute to stars Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Tina Turner, Gladys Knight and more.

Experience Psychic Fair

October 22-24
The three-day event will feature abundant opportunities for scheduled readings, including palm and tarot card readings, as well as crystals and other items for sale.

Legends and Stars Sports Expo and Autograph Show

October 29-30
Sports fans will be able to purchase memorabilia from cards to baseball bats and jerseys from their favorite players. There will also be celebrity athletes signing autographs, including Jim Kelly, Andre Reed, Thurman Thomas and many more. A list of athletes attending the signing event can be found at

Zonta Holiday Craft Show

November 13-14
For those looking to do a little holiday shopping, this is a classic Christmas themed vendor fair, featuring crafters and artisans in every room of the Events Center. This event is free to the public.

Nerds Gone Wild

Saturday, November 27
The number one party band in the 716 will host a Thanksgiving weekend concert that will give you a chance to start your holiday season off with some fun and dancing. This event is free to the public.

Batavia Downs New Year’s Eve Party

December 31
Grab your date and send off 2021 with a celebration featuring an “Around the World” buffet dinner, free play in the casino, fireworks, a live band, and special on hotel reservations. Tickets start at $250 for a couple and typically sell out early.

About Batavia Downs Gaming


Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel is the area’s premier entertainment destination. Enjoy gaming, shopping, dining, and live racing daily from Monday thru Thursday 8am–1am | Friday thru Sunday 8am–3am in our non-stop-fun atmosphere. Have the time of your life with over 800 of the hottest and most in-demand games, as well as live harness racing from the end of July through December. Don’t want to pack all the entertainment in one night? Stay longer by taking advantage of Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel accommodations!

8315 Park Road, Batavia, NY 14020 | 585-343-3750
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Written by Sarah Maurer

Sarah Maurer

I moved to Buffalo to attend Canisius College in 2007 and began writing for Buffalo Rising as a journalism intern in 2010. Working with Newell and meeting numerous entrepreneurs, activists and everyday folks who were working to make their city better made a huge impact on my decision to stay here. After witnessing all the positive development and grassroots initiatives happening in neighborhoods throughout the city, I was inspired to pursue a term of service in AmeriCorps and a career in Buffalo's non-profit sector. I currently work in the housing department at the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center of WNY and am excited to be a part of their ongoing efforts to revitalize the Broadway Fillmore neighborhood. I also volunteer as the project coordinator for Artfarms Buffalo. I continue to write for Buffalo Rising because I love having the opportunity to stay connected to those working toward positive changes for the Queen City.

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