Little village, big fun

Rediscover Gowanda returns this weekend

OBSERVER File Photo. Rediscover Gowanda 2017 looks to be bigger and better this weekend. There will be a carnival, fireworks, train rides, a 5k and more.

GOWANDA — Gowanda has a population of 2,648 people, the 2014 U.S. Census Bureau says. It is part of two counties, Erie and Cattaraugus, and two towns, Collins and Persia. Gowanda is also known for its unique mix of open fields and sylvan forests.

However, most don’t take note of the downtown business district. That is where Rediscover Gowanda steps in.

Rediscover Gowanda is an effort to rediscover all that Gowanda has to offer, and first and foremost is the business district. To address this issue, Rediscover Gowanda coordinates a weekend festival that is slated for this weekend, Friday to Sunday.

“I don’t think they realize what’s in the business district,” Rediscover Gowanda co-organizer Janet Vogtli said.

“We have hair shops, which everyone knows we have. But there’s Kym Deming. She has Tupperware; she has Native American jewelry. … She has all different things to offer,” she continued. “Jessie’s Toy Box has all different vendors. Same with J&J Outfitters. People don’t know that we do dry cleaning. … There’s just a lot that we want people to discover.”

Vogtli noted many other assets that the village holds, like the hardware stores, pharmacies and small boutiques.

For Rediscover Gowanda, events happen throughout downtown. On Friday, there will be a basket sale at Community Bank at 9 a.m. until it sells out, sidewalk sales for most stores from 9 a.m. to store closings (most at around 8 p.m.) and a carnival from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

On Saturday, the events continue to grow with train rides from the New York and Lake Erie Railroad with Civil War re-enactors at 1 and 3:30 p.m. The carnival will go from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday at dusk, a fireworks display will light the sky, provided by Skylighters of New York. All this will be going on and a list of more that would make an auctioneer struggle to talk fast.

“We’re going to have a lot of great sales,” Vogtli said. “A lot of the stores are participating in great sales and we’re very happy and proud to have the fireworks on Saturday night. I think that will be a big draw for everybody and the big jam session I think will be fantastic.”

The jam session is on Saturday from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Chang Hu Park with J.B. Martin & Smoking Dogs performing.

On Sunday, there will be a Class of 2019 pancake breakfast from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Gowanda Legion with the 18th annual Crouse 5k Challenge soon after. Registration for the 5k is at 10 a.m. and the race starts at noon. Contact Jen Gernatt, 860-8782, if you’re interested.

A bike blessing at Gowanda Assembly of God, 78 Allen St., will be at 12:30 p.m. with a free lunch at 11:45 a.m. The carnival will be from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, as well.

“It is so fantastic that we’re having that (5k) and the pancake breakfast,” Vogtli added. “We’re thrilled that Jen Gernatt is going to be joining along with us because it helps us promote her. … We’re trying to do a lot of things and our whole focus is to Rediscover Gowanda because we have a lot to offer.”

At the Historic Hollywood Theater, there will be free movies on Friday and Saturday. Friday night, “Navajo Code Talkers” will be on at 7 p.m. Saturday is military-themed, as it is the week before Memorial Day weekend, with “Last Letters Home” at 1 p.m. and “Inside the Green Berets” at 3 p.m.

To get more information, the village of Gowanda has a post online of the entire list of events at and go to REDISCOVER GOWANDA! on Facebook to get the latest updates on what is happening for the event.

“I want people to understand,” Vogtli added, “that instead of going to the mall and shopping on the internet, that if they invest their money locally, it will keep their taxes down, it will keep helping with our infrastructure and it keeps our community going.”