Thursday, July 31, 2014

Alpha-Buffalo: F is for Frank Lloyd Wright

Darwin Martin House - June 2013
Architect, designer and writer Frank Lloyd Wright was a leader in organic architecture and the Prairie School movement who designed more than 1,000 structures through the world. His designs would eventually earn him the title of “the greatest American architect of all time” from the American Institute of Architects (1991). So how did this amazing American architect become embedded in the architectural lore of Buffalo, New York and the surrounding Western New York area?

Wright’s work was already a fixture in Oak Park, Illinois, where he lived while working for the Chicago firm Adler & Sullivan. Darwin D. Martin, an executive with the Larkin Soap Company in Buffalo, went to Oak Park to visit his brother, then returned to Buffalo to convince the Larkin board of directors to commission Wright to design their new office building after meeting the architect. Sadly, the Larkin Company Administration Building, completed in 1903, was destroyed in 1950; a small portion of wall still exists in the vicinity of “Larkinville,” a new outdoor activities venue in downtown Buffalo.

The Larkin Building was just an introduction to Buffalo for Wright, however, as he went on to design a house project for Martin. The Darwin D. Martin House Complex, located at 125 Jewett Parkway in Buffalo, was one of Wright’s largest “Prairie-style” homes, consisting of five interconnected buildings, including the main house, the connecting pergola, the conservatory and carriage house, the Barton House for his sister and brother-in-law and a gardener’s cottage. Wright also designed more than 390 pieces of art glass for the house, which achieved National Historic Landmark status in 1986.

Wright designed other homes for Larkin executives before designing a summer home for Martin and his family – Graycliff, located at 6472 Old Lake Shore Rd. in Derby. Built between 1926 and 1931, it was the final home Wright designed in the Buffalo area.

Recently, more Wright designs have been built in the Buffalo area through independent means. The Blue Sky Mausoleum, located in Buffalo’s Forest Lawn Cemetery, was designed for Martin as a family plot featuring 12 shallow steps with crypts on either side leading to a tall monument. Martin lost his fortune in the Great Depression, and the mausoleum was never built until 2004.

Another Wright design that never saw the light of day until recently was the Fontana Boathouse, located at the foot of Porter Ave. next to the West Side Rowing Club. Designed for the University of Wisconsin Boat Club in 1905, the Boathouse was built in 2007 after $5.4 million was raised for its construction.

The most recent “new” Wright project taking place in Buffalo is the 1920s filling station being built on the site of the Buffalo Transportation/Pierce-Arrow Museum, located at Michigan Ave. and Seneca St. in downtown Buffalo. The station was originally planned for a Buffalo oil company and was quite extravagant for any station of its time, including a second-story observation room with a fireplace, restrooms, a copper roof and gravity-fed gas tanks.

(Previously published on Yahoo Voices)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Alpha-Buffalo: E is for the Erie County Fair
The Erie County Fair, held each August on the Hamburg Fairgrounds (over 275 acres of fair fun!), is one of the largest county fairs in the country, drawing approximately 1 million attendees each year. The 12-day festival began as a one-day event in the 1840s, and has been held each year since, save 1943 when it was cancelled due to WWII.

Each year, the Fair combines agriculture and farming, musical entertainment, rides and games, motorsports and, of course, fair food to drawn hundreds of thousands to Hamburg. 2014 marks the 175th Erie County Fair.

Get ready for the Fair with announcements, schedules and more at

**special note:  THIS is the fair that inspired Blue Rodeo's song “What Am I Doing Here?”

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Alpha-Buffalo: E is for Ellicottville
The small village of Ellicottville, New  York, located in nearby Cattaraugus County, had a population of just 376 as of the 2010 census, but hosts many more visitors throughout the year for special events, skiing and more. If you’re looking for a reason to go to Ellicottville, here are a few items of interest on the annual calendar.

There’s plenty of skiing to do, with Holiday Valley located south of the village and HoliMont Ski Club – North America’s largest private ski club – also nearby. These two destinations help make Ellicottville the top tourist destination in Cattaraugus County.

Golfer in the house? In the summer, Holiday Valley is also home to an 18-hole, par 72 golf course, and 10 minutes away is Elkdale Country Club, an 18-hole public course.

Feeling lucky? Check out Seneca Allegany Casino and Hotel, only 15 minutes away.

Throughout the year, there are plenty of weekend festivals in Ellicottville, including Mardi Gras, the Summer Music Festival, Jazz and Blues Weekend, the Taste of Ellicottville, Rock ‘n Roll Weekend,  and the Fall Festival.

Thinking about a getaway to Ellicottville – for a day or for a weekend? Check out for a complete list of things to do, places to eat and places to stay.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Alpha-Buffalo: E is for East Aurora
Established in 1874, East Aurora is home to an amazing old-time five-and-ten, a historic toy manufacturer and a 100-plus-year-old Arts-and-Crafts era inn. These are just a few of the things that make East Aurora a great place for a day trip from Buffalo.

Vidler’s 5 & 10 opened in 1930 and is now run by the third generation of the family. Located on the village’s historic Main St., Vidler’s now occupies four buildings and over 15,000 square feet of retail space.

Fisher-Price Toys has been located in East Aurora for many years and is also the site of the Fisher-Price Toystore, located on the company’s campus at 636 Girard Ave. Hours at the store are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Roycroft Inn, built in 1905, was built to accommodate the influx of people brought to East Aurora as part of the Arts-and-Crafts Movement. The Roycroft Campus was once the hub of the movement, with more than 500 artisans and craftsmen in the area. Today, the Inn features 28 luxury suites as well as a restaurant and a lounge.

Explore& More Children’s Museum, at 300 Gleed Ave., is the only Western New York museum designed especially for kids. Full of hands-on exhibits and learning activities, the museum also hosts birthday parties and school field trips.

Ever wonder what happened to the boards from the inaugural NHL Winter Classic at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park? Check them out at the East Aurora Classic Ice Rink, located at 41 Riley St. There is public skating on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and it also hosts a number of events, including the “Hockey-A-Thon,” a 26.2-hour-long hockey game.

Want more information on East Aurora? Check out

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Alpha-Buffalo: D is for Delaware Park

Rose Garden at Delaware Park
Delaware Park, one of Frederick Law Olmstead’s first three parks in the Buffalo area, is a 350-acre park with numerous features and even more events throughout the year.

The restoration of the park in recent years has included a new playground, restoration of the Rose Garden, improvements to Marcy Casino and new trees. Other features include the Parkside Lodge, home of the Delaware Meadows Golf Course Pro Shop, the Japanese Garden, Hoyt Lake and Shakespeare Hill, home of the free outdoor Shakespeare festival, Shakespeare in Delaware Park.

Sports amenities at the park include an 18-hole golf course, softball and baseball diamonds, lawn bowling courts, tennis courts, football/soccer/rugby fields, basketball courts, picnic tables and playgrounds.

Delaware Park is bordered by a number of other Buffalo cultural jewels, including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Buffalo History Museum and the Buffalo Zoo.

Find out more about Delaware Park and Buffalo’s other Olmstead Parks and Parkways at

Saturday, July 19, 2014

130+ rides “Man Up” for a great cause

Q: What would make 130+ owners of classic cars, muscle cars, bikes and trucks sit at a car and bike show for over six hours in less-than-beautiful weather on a Saturday afternoon?

A: A worthy cause, a great family and special young lady that many of us never knew in person, but lives on in her spirit.

On Saturday, July 19th, the fourth annual “Man Up” Car and Bike Show at East Amherst Fire Dept. on Transit Rd. in Amherst drew more than 130 rides and their owners, as well as numerous car show fans on a rainy but never dreary afternoon – the fact that we were helping honor the memory of Meghan Redenbach brightened the day.

Young Meghan lost her battle with cancer on Christmas Eve in 2010, after battling the disease for two years. During her battle, the phrase “Man Up” became linked to this Royalton-Heartland student, and continues to be her catch phrase even after her passing. The car and bike show, along with concessions, basket raffles and 50/50 drawings, raises money for the Meghan Redenbach Memorial Fund – which awards a scholarship each year to a graduating senior – as well as Make-A-Wish and Carly’s Club. The show is put together by Meghan’s parents, Mike and Nancy, her brother Nick and numerous family members and friends.

I might be partial, but this was one of the best cars shows I’ve been to – in addition to the worthwhile cause, there was a wide variety of vehicles represented and an amazing selection of baskets and gift certificates in the raffle tent. Dad and I also had the Mustangs entered, and Dad took home a plaque for “Richie.”

"Sally" (left) and "Richie" (right)

Stay tuned for the date of next year’s show – it’s definitely worth the visit.

all photos:

Alpha-Buffalo: C is for Canalside
Canalside is downtown Buffalo’s new hot spot for everything. In 2013, Canalside hosted more than 750 events on its 21 acres of waterfront property. Among the events: concerts, fitness classes, festivals and more.

In 2014, new facilities and events will be taking place at Canalside, including the anticipated fall opening of HARBORcenter, another gift from the Pegulas and the Buffalo Sabres. Set to include two rinks, retail space, a cool restaurant called (716) – that’s our area code – and eventually a huge hotel, HARBORcenter will be the center of Hockey Heaven.

Canalside can be accessed by street, by boat, with more than 1,000 feet of berthing space, or by MetroRail, which will drop you off at the “entrance” to the area. There’s plenty of places to catch a bite to eat nearby, as well as Clinton’s Dish take-out restaurant and the Liberty Hound full-service restaurant right on Canalside grounds.

The 2014 schedule is still in the planning stages – keep an eye out for it at

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Alpha-Buffalo: C is for Corning Museum of Glass
The Corning Museum of Glass, located at One Museum Way in Corning (exit 46 off I-86), is located approximately 2-1/2 hours from Buffalo – great for a day trip or a weekend adventure. The museum is a unique combination of history and hands-on experience, seeking to teach its visitors about a process that’s 3,500 years old – glassmaking – through its collections and research library, as well as demonstrations and make-your-own experiences.

The museum's Glass Collection Galleries showcase glass from Asia, Europe, the Near East, and America, dating back to the origins of glass and glassmaking some 3,500 years ago. Galleries include "Crystal City," showcases pieces made in Corning in the early 20th century; "Paperweights of the World;" "Modern Glass," with pieces dating from the 1880s to 1960; and individual galleries showcasing the areas mentioned.

The Ben W. Heineman Sr. Family Gallery of Contemporary Glass features large art works in glass (closed through April 12th, 2014 for reinstallation), while the Innovation Center is an interactive exhibit that introduces visitors to inventors in glassmaking. The Frederick Carder Gallery displays pieces made by Carder from 1880 into the 1950s. The museum also hosts a number of temporary exhibits and many themed events throughout the year.

The Corning Museum of Glass is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from September 3rd through May 23rd and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. from May 24th through September 2nd (closed only on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day). Adult admission (20 to 54) is $16, while admission for seniors (55+), military (with ID) and college students (with ID) is $13.60; kids and teens 19 and under are free. Find out more about the museum and upcoming exhibits and events at

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Alpha-Buffalo: B is for Botanical Gardens

The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, located at 2655 South Park Ave. in Buffalo, New York, is part of Buffalo’s Frederick Law Olmstead Park System, which also includes Delaware Park, Martin Luther King Jr. Park and Front Park. South Park, home of the Botanical Gardens, was created between 1894 and 1900 on 156 acres of land.

Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens 2013
The original park included a conservatory for tropical plants, an arboretum, a pinetum, a bog garden and a shrub garden. The construction of the conservatory was based on the Crystal Palace and Kew Gardens Palm House, both in England. Today, many of the original buildings have been renovated and additions have been built to create 12 different sections featuring a wide variety of plants and displays, as well as four outdoor garden spaces.

The Palm Dome, the original 67-foot high conservatory, is filled with tall fruit trees and majestic palms. The Gardens also house Victorian Ivy, orchids, begonias, carnivorous plants and a selection of “dinosaur topiaries” – not old topiaries, but shrubs cut to the shapes of dinosaurs. Outside the Gardens, visitors will find the Children’s Garden and the Rose and Perennial Gardens, along with the beautiful front entrance garden during the months of March through October.

NIGHT LIGHTS at the Gardens 2013
Throughout the season, the Botanical Gardens hosts a number of plant shows, including the Chrysanthemum Show, the Poinsettia Show, the popular NIGHT LIGHTS at the Gardens display, Coleus and Color and many others. Many of these shows (excluding NIGHT LIGHTS) are free to Garden Members; memberships start at $35 for seniors (55 years and older) and students (with ID), and $45 for individuals.

The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens is open daily except for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day and limited hours on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and students, $4 for children 3 to 12 and free for children under 3 and members; flower show admission is $9 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, $5 for children 3 to 12 and free for children under 3.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Alpha-Buffalo: B is for Bike Trails
Biking is a popular way to stay in shape during the summer, and in Western New York, there are plenty of bike paths and trails for fitness buffs and casual bikers to use throughout the season. Here are some of the trails for bike riders throughout Western New York (note: always ride with a partner for safe biking).
  • Amherst/Tonawanda Ellicott Creek Bike Path - ending points are North Forest Rd. near Maple Rd. in Amherst and Ellicott Creek Park in Tonawanda. The trail measures 7.2 miles from end to end, and the Amherst end has a short loop as another option. This path is also used by walkers, runners, and roller bladers.
  • Clarence/Akron Pathway Trail - begins at Main St. and Salt Rd. in Clarence, connecting with the Newstead Bike Path (Davison and Clarence Center Rds.) and the Akron Trail Rail (Cedar St. and Eckerson Ave.). The initial trail is 6.5 miles and is used for walking, running, biking, and blading in summer. An additional Clarence path, known as the Peanut Line, runs along an old rail system parallel to Clarence Center Rd., from Meadowlakes Park to Kraus Rd.
  • Beaver Island State Park Bike Trails - located at 2136 West Oakfield Rd. in Grand Island, Beaver Island State Park features a number of biking trails throughout its 950 acres. This multi-purpose park also features fishing, hiking, a beach for swimming, and an 18-hole golf course.
  • Erie Canal Trailway - the Trailway is over 150 miles of scenic trails along the Erie Canal throughout New York, from Lockport out past Albany. The Erie Canal Heritage Trail is a multi-surface trail between Lockport and Palmyra; at various stages, the 70-mile trail is paved with stone dust, gravel, and asphalt. The Old Erie Canal Trail is 36 miles long, paved with stone dust; it runs between Dewitt and Rome, and has received National Recreation Trail designation. The Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway is an asphalt trail that runs 40 miles from Fort Hunter to Cohoes along the Mohawk River. The Glen Falls Feeder Canal Trail is a nine-mile stone dust trail in the city of Glen Falls; it runs along a surviving section of the 1820s canal system.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Alpha-Buffalo: A is for Art Festivals
A Buffalo summer is notoriously full of outdoor festivals for people to partake in, and a few of the biggest are the outdoor art festivals. Here’s a look at a few of the larger ones – check out the event listings at for more art festivals in the area.

Allentown Art Festival – took place June 14th and 15th in the Historic Allentown Preservation District in Buffalo.

Roycrofters at Large Summer Festival – took place June 28th and 29th,, 2014 at the Parkdale Elementary School in East Aurora. The Roycrofters also hold a Winter Festival in East Aurora.

Glen Park Art Festival – takes place July 26th and 27th in Glen Park in the Village of Williamsville.

Elmwood Ave. Festival of the Arts – takes place in late August in the vicinity of Elmwood Ave. and Lafayette Ave. in Buffalo.

Music is Art Festival – takes place in mid-September in Delaware Park near the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive, but if you’d like your festival included, please contact me at

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Alpha-Buffalo: A is for Auto Racing

While the Buffalo-Niagara area is hardly on par with auto racing hot beds like Charlotte or Indianapolis, there is a substantial presence in the area when it comes to stock car racing, drag racing and dirt track racing. If Saturday night local racing isn’t enough for you, there are some NASCAR, IndyCar, NHRA and World of Outlaws tracks within just a few hours of the area.

Sportsman mods - Lancaster - 2013
Lancaster Speedway/Elegant Builders Raceway Park – the combination asphalt oval track and drag strip seems to be in flux management-wise right now, but there is stock car racing and drag racing scheduled  for 2014. The stock car side will feature Saturday night racing featuring 4-cylinders, street stocks and sportsman modifieds, as well as special shows from the Race of Champions Asphalt Modifieds and the Big 10 Super Stocks, among others; the annual U.S. Open is scheduled for September 19th through 21st. Friday night drag show special events include the Nitro Night of Fire on July 11th.

Summernationals - Ransomville - 2013
Ransomville Speedway – Friday night dirt track racing in Niagara County features 358 modifieds, sportsman, street stocks, 4-cylinders and more. The biggest race of the year is the Alex Friesen Sumernationals, taking place Tuesday, August 5th and featuring the SuperDIRT Series BigBlock Modifieds for the race’s 30th anniversary running.

Race of Champions Mods - Holland - 2013

Holland Speedway – the NASCAR-sanctioned asphalt oval track's schedule included the recent Race of Champions Asphalt Modifieds on Saturday, July 5th.

What’s nearby? – among others:

Super DIRT Week in Syracuse – the biggest dirt track racing party in New York! Taking place at Rolling Wheels, Weedsport and the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse on Columbus Day weekend in October.

World of Outlaws STP Sprint Cars - Rolling Wheels - 2013
Raceway 5 – Batavia

Weedsport Speedway – Weedsport

Fulton Speedway – Baldwinsville

Ohsweken Speedway – dirt track in Ontario – hosts the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series.

Merrittville Speedway – dirt track in Ontario – hosts the Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds.

Humberstone Speedway – dirt track in Ontario.

Supermodifieds - Oswego - 2013
Oswego Speedway – Oswego – home of the Classic Weekend and the Race of Champions Weekend.

Honda Indy Toronto – Exhibition Place in Toronto – home of the IndyCar Series and other open-wheel racing.

Summit Motorsports Park – Norwalk, Ohio – home of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and the annual Night Under Fire.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series - Watkins Glen - 2010
Watkins Glen International – Watkins Glen in the Finger Lakes – home of NASCAR and the TUDOR United Sports Car Championship.

all photos:

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Alpha-Buffalo: A is for Albright-Knox Art Gallery
One of Buffalo’s top cultural draws is the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, located at 1285 Elmwood Ave. in Buffalo. A world-renowned center for modern and contemporary art, the Gallery is host to a rich collection of post-war American and European art – abstract art, pop art and items from the 1970s through today – as well as pieces from trends including Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, cubism, surrealism and constructivism.

The Gallery’s governing body, the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, was founded in 1862, making it one of the oldest public arts organizations in the United States. The original gallery, a gift from area philanthropist John Albright, was intended to be used as the Fine Arts Pavilion for the Pan-American Exhibition in 1901; the building wasn’t completed until 1905. Designed by Buffalo architect E.B. Green, it was known as the Albright Art Gallery until 1962. An addition was needed, and made possible by donations from the Knox family, who went on to become the first owners of the Buffalo Sabres hockey team; the gallery was renamed the Albright-Knox Art Gallery following the dedication.

The G. Robert Strauss Jr. Memorial Library is the Gallery’s research and study center; it supports research and education by collecting, preserving and making resources available to members, students, academics and community members by request. The Gallery also offers classes and workshops for everyone, from toddlers to adults.

Looking for a way to check out the Gallery on the cheap? M&T First Fridays, held – you guessed it – on the first Friday of each month, opens the doors to the Gallery’s 1962 Knox Building free of charge from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Some special events are also free of charge, while other events, tours and classes are available for a nominal fee. Become a member of the Art Gallery and all of these events are free of charge – join on a First Friday and receive a 20-percent discount on your membership.

For more information on the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, visit

Sunday, July 6, 2014


Reinvention takes time…

I recently started rethinking my blogging world because one of my writing sites seemed to be going down the drain quickly – a few days ago I found out my feelings were right, and the site was signing off shortly. Sadly, this was the site that gave me back my love of writing, but its demise is NOT going to take that love away from me.

I started many of my blogs as an outlet for things I couldn’t, for some reason or another, publish on other sites – too short, off-topic, different format, etc. Unfortunately, life got in the way, and trying to keep up with the other sites I write for – as well as the full-time, absolutely unrelated to anything job I have – pushed the blogs to the backburner.

I started thinking about combining all these topics – things that are important parts of my life – into one blog showcasing my Buffalo girl world:
  • My hometown – Buffalo!
  • My travels – my summer hobby
  • My home – inside and out
  • My foodie favorites – recipes, products, other blogs and more
  • My favorite sports – auto racing, hockey, lacrosse and baseball
  • My random, miscellaneous ramblings

That looks like quite a bit to put in one little blog, but there’s a lot of overlap:
  • My SPORTS TRAVEL adventures
  • The National GARDEN Festival in BUFFALO
  • FOOD – regional favorites and restaurants – in BUFFALO

My life, as you can see, is rather Buffalo-centric – I can’t imagine being anywhere else, and when I am, I usually can’t wait to get home (the exception to that possibly being Charlotte…). So journey with me into my Bflo Girl World – hopefully it will be any adventure!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Happy Independence Day Weekend!

Polish used: Julep Bunny (White - It Girl), Cara (Red - Bombshell) and Bailey (Blue - It Girl)