Spring in western New York is a time for maple syrup, bird migrations, spring skiing, last minute snowmobiling, and the gradual transition to green grass, golf, fishing, new plantings and the opening of seasonal shops and restaurants. Below are a dozen reasons to visit Chautauqua County this spring.
As warmer days and freezing nights cause the sap to flow, maple syrup season begins. Visit local sugar houses March 21-22 and 28-29 during New York State’s annual Maple Weekend, a state-wide open house promoting maple syrup producers. Watch the sap as it boils, sample maple candy, or savor warm syrup with a pancake breakfast. Clear Creek Farm in Mayville, Big Tree Maple in Lakewood, and Fairbanks Maple in Forestville are maple producers participating in Chautauqua County.
Head to Peek’n Peak Resort for a variety of activities in addition to spring skiing, tubing and boarding. The annual Chicken Wing Cook-Off takes place Saturday, March 7, 2015 from noon to 5 pm. Local vendors will cook up some of their best wings and sauces and compete for the title of favorite. Proceeds from the event will go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Spring Fest takes place March 14th with Pond skimming, a Cardboard Box Derby, food vendors and live music. The 2015 golf season begins May 21st.
Go bird watching. Birdwatchers will delight in the opportunities provided by migratory patterns from March to May. With its position on the southeastern shores of Lake Erie, Chautauqua County is a prime spot for raptors and migratory birds before embarking on their journeys across Lake Erie. Visit Where to Play: Birding for a list of suggested birding sites.
See a selection of the top films from the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival when the Roger Tory Peterson Institute hosts a showing at the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts on April 8, 2015. Host organizations in each tour location choose a program that reflects the interests of their community creating a unique celebration of adventure and adventurers at each stop. The World Tour spans the globe, reaching over 430,000 audience members through more than 940 screenings in 500 locations in 40 countries. Proceeds from the April screening will support ongoing programs and exhibits at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute.
Visit the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts in Jamestown for a live performance. New Orleans funk will have you on your feet when Galactic comes to the Reg on March 21, 2015. A collective of musicians featuring a rotating line-up of guest singers, Galactic plays original music, throwing in a few reworked classics for an unforgettable night of dance, good vibes and a lot of Mardi Gras atmosphere. Galactic is part of the Southern Tier Brewing Company Live Series at the Reg. Return to the Reg, May 9th for The Jason Bishop Show of Opt-Art and Plasma Illusions. From breathtaking Double Levitation to cutting edge Op-Art and Plasma illusions, Jason Bishop performs stunning and original magic. Each show features award winning sleight of hand, exclusive grand illusions and close-up magic projected onto a huge movie screen and delivered with an outstanding rock and pop soundtrack.
Join Grammy-winning musician, Jim Lauderdale, and host Ken Hardley on the theater stage at the Reg Lenna Center for The Arts for a special live recording of Rolling Hills Radio, April 30, 2015. A performer and musician with over 20 albums under his belt, Lauderdale has written songs recorded by Patty Loveless, George Jones, The Dixie Chicks, and George Strait, among others. He last performed in the area as part of Elvis Costello’s band at Chautauqua Institution in 2009. Be a part of the live audience and then tune in to hear the broadcast the following week on WRFA-LP 107.9 FM.
Enjoy the Folk in Fredonia Music Series at the 1891 Fredonia Opera House. From blues to bluegrass, country to Celtic, old-timey to new singer/songwriters, the Series is all about grassroots music and new acoustic artists. The Dady Brothers take the stage March 20th. Comprised of brothers John and Joe, this musical duo has spent 40 years together and shared a stage with such notables as Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy, Terry Gibb, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Ani DeFranco, Arlo Guthrie, The Clancy Brothers, Johnny Paycheck, Paddy Keenan, Pete Seeger, Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, and more.
Tour Lake Erie Wine Country, an association of 25 wineries between Silver Creek, NY and Harborcreek, PA, with a Wine and Art Saturday, April 25th or Wine and Cheese Weekend, May 15-17. Wine and Art Saturday is a free event from 10 am – 5 pm with artists on location at participating wineries to display, sell, and demonstrate their works from paintings and sculptures to photography and glass. Tickets are required for the Wine and Cheese Weekend and include wine tastings paired with cheese inspired food samples at each of the 25 wineries, a recipe booklet, $5 voucher for wine purchase, and a gift.
Meet the artists of Chautauqua County during the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Art Trail‘s Open Studio Tours, May 23-24 and June 6-7, 2015. Visitors will tour artists’ studios located in the villages along Lake Erie in Chautauqua County and experience the places that inspire regional artists, hear their personal stories, and see works in progress encompassing many disciplines including painting, photography, ceramics, sculpture, and textiles.
Take an intimate look at the work of regional artist, Audrey Kay Dowling, when the Roger Tory Peterson Institute hosts a nature-inspired show of Audrey’s art, Nurtured by Nature: Developing as an Artist in Chautauqua County, May 1 – June 15, 2015. Raised on 52 acres on Bemus Creek, Audrey Kay Dowling spent her youth exploring the woods and creeks that ran through the property, inspiring her love of nature. After leaving the area to pursue a degree in art at SUNY New Paltz, she returned to the beauty of Chautauqua County and has spent her life since then studying and using her art to interpret regional plants, birds and landscapes with mixed media, clay and paint.
Taste food and wine during the Taste of Findley Lake, May 9, 2015. The 2nd annual event features six local New York State wineries and several restaurants in and around Findley Lake. Participating wineries, all members of Lake Erie Wine Country, include Blueberry Sky Farm Winery, Liberty Vineyards, Mazza Vineyards, Merritt Estate Winery, Noble Winery and Sparkling Ponds Winery. The wineries will partner with the Blue Heron Inn, French Creek Store, French Creek Tavern, Peek ‘n Peak Resort, Pine Junction and Z’s on the Lake. In conjunction with the event, local merchants will feature new spring merchandise as well as vintage and antique treasures.
Experience learning in new and fun ways during Chautauqua in Spring, May 15 – June 21, with five weeks of events featuring local farms, food and drink along with creative and cultural arts. Uncover the mystery of moths during an evening of music or learn to identify and gather edible spring greens, flowers and fruits at the Jamestown Audubon Center and Sanctuary. Join a seven-course dinner made exclusively with locally grown foods at the Athenaeum Hotel at Chautauqua Institution and meet local farmers, chefs, winemakers and brew masters. Learn to paint in the Plein Air with a local artist, or choose from dozens of additional workshops held both indoors and outdoors throughout Chautauqua County. Visit the Chautauqua in Spring Calendar for details and a full list of events and experiences.
Sign-up for the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau’s monthly e-newsletter to receive updates on events and news in Chautauqua County. For a full schedule of events throughout the year, visit the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau online calendar or call 866-908-4569.