The price was right

OBSERVER Photos by Diane R. Chodan Top: AC/DC tribute band Dirty Deeds plays on Aug. 10 as part of Dunkirk’s Music on the Pier series. Above: Diana and Don Hammond of Angola dance to Patrick Johnson’s rendition of Elvis Presley music. This free concert was held in Centennial Park in Angola. Below: Children attending the Fredonia Farm festival enjoyed playing with magic sand.

‘Free’ time in the summertime


OBSERVER Lifestyles Contributor

Summer officially ended on Sept. 22, and it happened again. It happens every year. I never get to all the wonderful free events I would like to attend.

Don’t say the word “bored” or the phrase “nothing to do” to me. Most local cities, towns and villages in the area sponsored free concerts, presenting a wide variety of sounds. The Kosciuszko Club and Dom Polski held street dances, libraries offered free events and a number of festivals had no admission fee.

The Kokomo Band plays throughout Western New York. In previous years, I’ve seen them in Cassadaga and at the Senior Center in Dunkirk. This year marked the band’s 18th season and the sound has changed over time. The band’s repertoire now includes oldies of the 50s, 60s and 70s, calypso, Tex-Mex, and beach music. This year, I caught the show at Barker Common and thought the group’s sound had improved. The band members were having fun and so was the audience, a group that ranged from very young children to senior citizens.

Centennial Park is the site of Angola’s summer concert series. I’d never been there, but Patrick Johnson, an Elvis tribute artist, was the draw for me to attend. His concert also drew residents from St. Columban’s-on-the-Lake, members of a group home, and an audience from around the area. According to his website, Johnson has traveled throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe giving his tribute concerts. I know that he has people who follow him and pay to hear him. He looks and sounds like Elvis, albeit more physically fit than the Elvis (of the concert years) he portrays. What is truly endearing, however, is the way Johnson interacts with the audience. He is genuinely kind to the young, old, and disabled.

Dunkirk’s concert series, Music on the Pier attracts large crowds. During my years of work at the OBSERVER, I didn’t attend these events because I worked Thursday nights. However, I certainly could hear the bands; the OBSERVER building is not far away from the pier. This year, I attended the concert by the AC/DC tribute band Dirty Deeds.

It is always interesting to see the local area through the eyes of someone who is visiting. And call it serendipity; sometimes a remarkable opportunity just presents itself. On July 16, while showing my nephew’s mother-in-law the area, we decided to drive to the Stow Ferry just to look at it. We stopped to read the historical markers and talk about riding the ferry, something I remembered from before the bridge over Chautauqua Lake was opened on Oct. 30, 1982.

We heard a pleasant voice telling us, “The ferry will be running today. It will be about 10 minutes before I get things set up and I’m ready to go.”

The voice belonged to Ro Woodard, one of the volunteer ferry boat captains. I learned that she is a native of Falconer but now lives in the Albany area. When she comes back to Falconer each year, she likes to act as captain to celebrate both her birthday and the ferry’s birthday since the two dates are close. While Woodard didn’t volunteer how old she was, she said the ferry was 206 years old. She brought balloons and refreshments and I helped her set up. The ride is free, although donations are accepted and used for upkeep. Woodard, who is very knowledgeable, willingly answered questions about the workings of the ferry.

My granddaughters are usually visiting late in August, and we enjoy going to the Fredonia Farm Festival. This year we decided to attend the free movie, Moana, which kicked off the series of activities for the event. In addition to the movie, there was a free raffle for prizes including a bicycle. Even though the movie was rained out near its ending, those working on this event did a good job of warning people and explaining that it was important to be safe.

During the rest of the weekend, many worthwhile events took place. One of the nicest was letting children color a farm festival picture which, if stamped by all the agricultural vendors on Church Street, could be redeemed at the booth run by DeGolier’s Maple Products. Some of the vendors told jokes; all of them were kind. The woman at DeGolier’s checked the pictures, added her own maple leaf stamp, rewarded the children with pinwheels and offered a piece of maple candy to each.

Free events taper off after summer ends. But that doesn’t mean there is nothing to do. The Forestville Fall Festival was Saturday and today.

On Saturday, Oct. 21, the West Portland Baptist Church will host an Apple Butter Festival from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 7081 E. Route 20, Westfield. There will be free admission, and all welcome. Observe and help in the cooling of old fashioned apple butter. The event will feature 40 to 50 vendors with sale items, including food., and will be held rain or shine. Profits will be donated to Nina’s Kitchen Brocton/Portland Food Pantry.

On the first Saturday of the month, there are Scandinavian Culture Days from 10 a.m. to noon at the Jamestown Community College, 525 Falconer St., Jamestown. The events are free, open to the public and no reservations are required. Attendees can enjoy a series of workshops and fellowship about Scandinavia. For details, call 665-0883.

The Girl Scouts are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Center in Jamestown on Nov. 11 with a formal program as well as interactive displays, exhibits, photos and activities. Libraries are still open, and with the advent of the college semester, there will be events, some free, to attend on campus at Fredonia.

The OBSERVER’s Fall/Winter Event guide is currently being compiled. Those who want to submit events should send a brief description of the event including date, time, location, price and the telephone number of the contact person to OBSERVER, Fall & Winter Events Listings, P.O. Box 391, Dunkirk NY 14048-0391. Email submissions can be made to Subject: Fall & Winter Events.

Together, maybe we can eliminate the “B” (bored) word.