Best of Buffalo 2014

 

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What a year it’s been for the Queen City — from the Pegula’s purchase of the Bills, to the official opening of HarborCenter, to the freak snow storm in November. And it seems like only weeks ago that the Washington Post declared Buffalove ‘in’ for 2014 trends. Yet, roughly a year has passed; and looking back, we believe our city has lived up to the hype. We pick out our best of 2014 for your reading pleasure!

At What’s Going In Buffalo? many of us fancy ourselves as beer connoisseurs of a sort though none of us more so, perhaps, than Erik Wollschlager who looks back at Buffalo’s Beer-naissance (Brew-surgence?):

Sweet nectar of St. Patrick. Photo Credit: Jenn Reed

Sweet nectar of St. Patrick.
Photo Credit: Jenn Reed

Beer: 2014 was the Year of Beer in Buffalo. Breweries popped up throughout the city, sewing the seeds of revitalization in neighborhoods that had all but wasted away to nothingness over the past few decades. Resurgence Brewing on Niagara Street and OFW Brewing in the First Ward breathed new life into the dark recesses of the city. Flying Bison moved into Larkinville, expanding their production and services to bring bigger crowds to the already bustling area. More recently, Hydraulic Hearth opened their doors. Partnered with the boys from Community Beer Works, Hydraulic Hearth aims to keep Larkinville patrons stuffed and happy year-round. Larkinville itself became a destination when they began their Food Truck Tuesday events and presented great bands and local businesses in a unique family setting throughout the week. Watch for BFLO Distilling as they make their move to Larkinville. By Spring 2015, Larkinville will be your one-stop shop for everything Buffalo – beer, whiskey, food, and family fun. – Erik Wollschlager

And, as Jason Sinsabaugh reminds us, it has been an emotional rollercoaster for Buffalo’s die-hard sports fans:

JIm Throws Andre one last pass! - Photo via www.democratandchronicle.com

Jim Throws Andre one last pass! – Photo via http://www.democratandchronicle.com

Sports: It’s been a wild year in Buffalo sports. We saw the passing of our beloved founder and father of the Buffalo Bills, Ralph Wilson. The man who took a chance and bought a team for 25k and turned it into an AFL powerhouse before merging with the NFL — the man who fought to keep the Bills here despite being a small market team. Even in passing, Ralph Wilson is helping out via his charities from the proceeds of the sale of the Bills. Our beloved hero Jim Kelly was diagnosed with Cancer. Thanks to his wife Jill and social media, we shared in Jim’s struggle and watched our prayers be answered as he was declared cancer free. Andre Reed FINALLY got into the hall of fame. As Reed said, it’s better late than never! Terry Pegula became the new owner of the Buffalo Bills after an exhaustive process to fans. We figured something was in the works when we “coincidentally” sold a parcel of land for 1.7 billion shortly after Ralph passed. Already owners of the Sabres, the Pegulas now control both Buffalo pro sports franchises (three, if you count a pretty exciting indoor lacrosse team). We’ve all seen what he’s doing with the Sabres and Harbor Center, so I personally can’t wait to see what 2015 and beyond brings with the Pegulas at the helm. – Jason Sinsabaugh

Rebecca Offermann enjoyed Buffalo’s Flagship Artistic Festival, Buffalo’s Music is Art:

music is artMusic & Art: September’s Music is Art Festival 2014 was a blast, as usual. Bigger than ever, it took over Delaware Park and the back of Albright Knox Art Gallery in style. 2014’s festival saw 12 stages around the park constantly playing live music or with DJs spinning. When not parked in front of a stage listening to some great local music, one could walk around and enjoy a variation of art, including dance, performance art, projectionists, spoken word, and even fashionistas.  For the little ones there is a great kids village and no festival would be complete (anymore) without the fabulous local food trucks, yum! Everywhere you looked there was something to see (gawk at) and enjoy. There were even a couple of special guests this year, including honorary Buffalonians “Shonen Knife” from Osaka, Japan, who rocked the house. The festival is always hectic for me as I spend a majority of the time running around (we help out every year), and I never get to see as much of it as I would like; but what I do see is the people of WNY enjoying themselves, and that is what keeps me going until the end. – Rebecca Offermann

Josh McMahon could be found kayaking Buffalo’s rivers, canals, and occasionally having a beer and some wings at the Swannie House:

IMG_0420Waterfront:  2014 was a great year for the waterfront, especially from out on the water. The cool breeze helping to push us up and down the Buffalo River while taking in the concerts at Canalside. Lake Erie so serene on a calm day that, if not for the wake of our canoe, it could be mistaken for a mirror. We loved our picnic lunch on the breakwall; what an amazing view. Braving the rapids of the Niagara River seemed impossible without a supertanker if you listen to my mom tell stories of the undertow. So as we were paddling the kayaks toward Strawberry Island, I chuckled as the current seemed to take us right to a sandy paradise off the coast of Riverside. Armed with a cold beer in hand from a fellow beach-goer on a jet ski, Becca and I cruised around the island, finding secret coves and inlets where herons the size of pterodactyls skim across the water. You can get mesmerized by the crystal clear water inviting you to take a dip with the bass swimming below. The fox on the bank of Squaw Island and the bright blue lobster moseying across the lake floor shows us we can always start over. We can always make things better if we want to.  – Josh McMahon

Craig Wheeler reminded us that even something terrible, can bring out the Best in Buffalo:

Storm Dave Nieballa

Photo courtesy of Dave Nieballa II

Snowmaggedon:  It certainly doesn’t make me think of the best thing that happened in Buffalo for 2014, but it does remind me of the best of what Buffalo can be. Over seven feet of snow — in the hardest hit areas — fell in a two to three day period. It stranded people in their homes and on the thruway; it also caused people economic and personal heartache. In the end, thirteen people lost their lives and millions of dollars of damage was done to homes and businesses across South Buffalo, Lackawanna, and other towns and cities south and east of Buffalo. Even in the midst of all that, Buffalo persevered in the eyes of national media and beyond. Social Media was abuzz with photos of people in the storm, refrigerators made out of snow, walls of snow as tall as a person, and… well, you get it. The Buffalo Bills were forced to move their game to Detroit, but still hundreds of Buffalonians showed up to earn ten dollars an hour shoveling snow for the Bills to help Buffalo host their game the next week against the Browns. There were stories of people on snowmobiles helping their neighbors, clearing snow drifts off roofs, even digging one another out over and over and…. again, you get it. Perhaps one of the shining stars of the whole ordeal was Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, who may have slept eight hours over a four-day period while he handled a county in the midst of an epic storm. Even after the storm, temperatures rose to 60 degrees and melted almost all of that snow as quickly as it all fell. Yeah, seven feet of anything is a lot, but don’t worry about us in Buffalo; we can handle it! – Craig Wheeler

Finally, Kevin Kud details one of Buffalo’s most unique and enjoyable evenings that showcases the best that Buffalo has become:

Lantern Release Sky_Chuck Banas

Photo via Chuck Banas

Transformation: City of Night just keeps getting bigger and better, and the third installment of this now annual festival of the senses did not disappoint. It’s a surreal experience. In the shells of towering, cavernous industrial buildings art installations spring to life with light and sound. Attendees flow in to the complex known as Silo City by the thousands, entering a scene that might otherwise suggest a post-apocalyptic world. It is a testament to the vision, imagination and dedication of ELAB (short for Emerging Leaders in the Arts – Buffalo) that they are able to transform a once forsaken setting into a wildly popular destination. Though it was my first year as both an attendee and a volunteer, I plan to be back again in both roles. I can hardly wait to see what is in store for City of Night 2015.

Along those lines, we would be remiss not to mention the recently-inaugurated Ice at Canalside. Much has already been said about the restoration of the old commercial slip of the Erie Canal and the new life it has brought to downtown Buffalo. For my part, I’d say it was a great place to bring family members visiting from out of town over the holidays to do some outdoor ice skating. I can’t wait to try my hand at curling or take a ride on an ice bike on a future visit.  – Kevin Kud

We invite you to share the highlights of your year of Buffalove here in the comments section, on Facebook, or on Twitter (@WGOINBuffalo). Thanks for reading, and have a happy and prosperous new year!

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