Busy Summer Ahead at Canal Side

June 13, 2011 Updated Jun 13, 2011 at 6:13 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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Busy Summer Ahead at Canal Side

June 13, 2011 Updated Jun 13, 2011 at 6:13 PM EDT

Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- Plans for the summer 2011 daily programming at Canal Side were officially announced Monday by Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation Chairman Jordan Levy, U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins, County Executive Chris Collins and Mayor Byron Brown.

The number of events and attractions being offered has tripled, from 115 last year to over 300 for the upcoming summer season.

More than 90 percent of the events are free to the public, including a new series of “Thursday at the Square” concerts on the Central Wharf. In addition, Canal Side will once again play host to Buffalo’s official Independence Day Celebration, which will feature musical talent, patriotic ceremonies, fireworks and a visit from the Pride of Baltimore, a reproduction of an 1812-era Baltimore Clipper privateer that sails the world as a goodwill ambassador from Baltimore and the state of Maryland.

These offerings will be complemented by infrastructure improvements, including an expanded Central Wharf, facilities for boaters and a takeout food stand. The transformational programs and amenities being implemented this summer grew out of ideas submitted by the public during an extensive outreach program conducted by ECHDC last fall and winter.

“I have one message for the people of Western New York,” said Levy. “This is your waterfront and this is your summer. We opened the doors of ECHDC last fall and asked you to tell us what you wanted from the waterfront. You told us that you wanted authentic experiences and the ability to connect with the water. We responded by implementing your ideas and I am proud to say that this summer you will be able to enjoy concerts, programs for children, festivals and historic reenactments that highlight our community’s rich history, here in the very place where Buffalo began.”

“As progress along the waterfront, builds so does the excitement and public craving for more time and opportunities on the water’s edge,” said Higgins. “This year Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation and Buffalo Place outdid themselves, giving families, music lovers, nature seekers and cultural enthusiasts hundreds of uniquely Buffalo events to enjoy this summer.”

“More than ever, Buffalo’s waterfront will be a destination this summer for local residents and visitors alike,” said Collins. “The daily programming at Canal Side gives people of all ages another reason to come to the waterfront to not only enjoy our beautiful Western New York summers, but experience first-hand the excitement and momentum that is building along Buffalo’s shoreline. I want to thank the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation for its commitment to our community.”

“The dramatic increase in waterfront development and activity is a direct result of collaboration between the City of Buffalo, ECHDC and the other stakeholders,” said Brown. “I will continue to ensure that the city plays a key role in the development of this historic and valuable asset.”

“It is fantastic the amount of events that are planned,” said New York State Senator Mark Grisanti. “There is something for everyone to enjoy and it will be nice to see people from Western New York and beyond coming to our region to see our beautiful waterfront. I applaud all those that helped this venture become a reality.”

“The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation should be commended for the effort they put forth in soliciting public input and ideas for the waterfront site,” said Buffalo Place Inc. Chairman Keith Belanger. “The number of programs and the variety of activities scheduled for the upcoming summer demonstrates a high level of commitment by ECHDC to create excitement on our beautiful downtown waterfront. Buffalo Place is pleased to once again partner with ECHDC to deliver an exciting summer of programming, special events and festivals. The bar continues to be raised on the waterfront, with the best yet to come!”

“This summer, Canal Side truly becomes ‘a place,’” noted ECHDC President Thomas P. Dee. “When the Inner Harbor opened it was a beautiful area, but its potential seemed unfulfilled. During the open house sessions that we held last year, people told us that they loved to come down and enjoy the waterfront but if they wanted so much as a cup of coffee, they had to leave. By July, with the takeout food stand and an expanded Central Wharf, visitors will be able to spend as much time here as they like. As Western New Yorkers, we have felt separated from our greatest resource for generations and I’m proud to be part of the effort that brings the waterfront back to the people.”

Summer programming begins Saturday, June 18 with the Great Lakes Experience Festival, which will feature 45 participants, including the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Skyhunters: Birds of Prey and the Primate Sanctuary. The focus of the GLE is on the environment and ecology of the Great Lakes region. Other festivals include the Buffalo Creek Native Festival, a two-day event showcasing the culture of the Seneca and Haudenosaunee people and an Oktoberfest celebration presented by the German American Musicians Association.

The “Buffalo Place Rocks the Harbor” concert series begins on Friday, June 24 with Dark Star Orchestra. The Tragically Hip will make its first appearance on the Central Wharf on July 30. Other performers include legendary rockers Elvis Costello and Alice Cooper. Great Big Sea will wind up the series on Saturday, August 27. Over the course of the summer, there will be a total of six Buffalo Place Rocks the Harbor concerts featuring eleven acts. Ticket and pricing information can be found at www.buffaloplace.com/rocks-harbor.

“Thursdays at the Square” will begin on June 30 with Lowest of the Low and continue for six weeks through August 4, with an appearance by Tokyo Police Club. Other performers will include Sloan, Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes and George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic.

Fans of classical music will enjoy a free evening of music with the Buffalo Philharmonic on Friday, July 15. Conductor Matthew Kraemer will lead the orchestra through an evening dedicated to the music of Beethoven, including the exciting and dramatic Symphony No. 5.

Family programming will be provided by Explore & More Children’s Museum and the Tifft Nature Preserve. Explore & More will offer activities from noon until 4 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Tifft Nature Preserve will let children explore nature on Mondays from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Other family events include free concerts from the Hutchinson Family Revival, Franklin LaVoie and Dave Ruch. Historic re-enactors will bring the “Story of Buffalo” to life through characters including “Erie Canal Sal,” Susan B. Anthony and the famous William Douglass of “Dug’s Dive.”

Visitors who want to get out on the water will find a variety of opportunities, including the Queen City Water Ferry, the Spirit of Buffalo, Buffalo Harbor Kayak and free sail boat rides offered by the Buffalo Maritime Center and the Western New York Maritime Charter School. Other recreational opportunities include Yoga and Yogalates classes, as well as Zumba, a new form of Latin inspired dance fitness.

For schedules and pricing for the Queen City Water Ferry, call (716) 796-4556. Details regarding the Spirit of Buffalo and the Buffalo Urban Outdoor Education Foundation can be found on www.spiritofbuffalo.com or www.buoe.org. Information on BFLO Harbor Kayak is available at www.bfloharborkayak.com.

Through a contract with Buffalo Place Inc., Brand-On Services, Inc. will resume management of the harbor’s transient boating facilities and will also monitor waterside activities. Boaters interested in making docking arrangements at Erie Canal Harbor this summer should call the Erie Basin Marina ship store at (716) 851-6503.

A comprehensive listing of Erie Canal Harbor summer programming events and activities is now available at www.eriecanalharbor.com.