June 2006 Issue
Western Pennsylvania/Western New York: All-Star Lineup
A spectacular summer is on tap in western New York and Pennsylvania.
Throughout the winter, Ohioans rush to western New York's Holiday Valley to hit the slopes. And western Pennsylvania is always a prime destination for football fans come fall, regardless of your feelings about the team that calls Pittsburgh home. Fortunately, the fun doesn't stop after the snow melts and time runs out on another football season. Ohio's neighbors to the east also know how to do summer, and the '06 version is filled with festivals, fabulous food and America's favorite pastime.
Star-studded Pitt stop
From July 7 through July 11, Pittsburgh will be at the center of the Major League Baseball universe. This year's All-Star Game will be played at PNC Park July 11 in the city where the Monongahela and Allegheny meet to form the Ohio River. Even if you can't score a ticket to the battle between the best of the American and National leagues, the game brings with it a week's worth of events that celebrate all things baseball.
For those who always wondered if they have what it takes to be a big leaguer, the interactive All-Star FanFest is the place to test skills and imagine what could have been. Throughout FanFest, Pittsburgh's David L. Lawrence Convention Center will be converted into a field of dreams for those who worship the game. There, you can step into the batter's box to face some heat from a virtual Roger Clemens or toe the pitching rubber and try to fool an animated A-Rod with your killer curve. After the manager sends you to the bench, you can collect your very own baseball card to immortalize your all-too-brief career.
While the main attraction is the Midsummer Classic on July 11, it's not the only game on the slate. On July 9, the guys who need to do some extra stretching before they lace up the cleats will take the PNC Park field for the All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game. On the next day, baseball's biggest power hitters will slug it out at the All-Star Home Run Derby.
While the All-Star week would be a good time for any baseball fan to visit Pittsburgh, don't fret if you can't make it then. The Pittsburgh Pirates have plenty of home games left this year and there are tickets available. Even if you aren't a Pirates fan, PNC Park, with its spectacular views of the Roberto Clemente Bridge and the city's skyline, is well worth the visit for any baseball purist.
For ticket and schedule information for All-Star week and the Pirates, visit www.pittsburghpirates.com.
Eyes to the sky
While Cincinnati is known for its flying pigs, Pittsburgh may garner some attention this summer for its flying, upside-down trees. One of the most anticipated attractions at this year's Three Rivers Arts Festival, June 2-18, is "Displacement/Inversion" - a series of live, uprooted trees conspicuously suspended, roots up, in Enterprise Way, an alleyway in the Steel City's downtown.
Artist Reinhard Reitzenstein's daring upside-down display may be the most unusual attraction at the citywide festival, but it has some serious competition. "Lions, and Tigers, and Groundhogs... Oh My!" is an interactive exhibit at Point State Park that allows visitors to putt-putt their way around strategically placed sculptures in a challenging miniature-golf layout. Then, take the kids to the Family Festival, also at Point State Park, where a pack of giant paper-mache animal sculptures, some as tall as 25 feet, will be accompanied by life-size origami friends.
Art browsers and buyers flock to the festival's Duquesne Light Artists Market along Liberty Avenue. Some 300 artists will be on hand to display and demonstrate their work.
The Three Rivers Arts Festival isn't limited to sculptures and paintings. It's also a celebration of artistic expression through music, dance, theater and other performing arts. Soul songstress Bettye LaVette and Pittsburgh dance troupe Attack Theatre are among the acts on the bill. Jazz greats The Yellowjackets will close the festival with a performance on June 18.
For more information, call 412/281-8723 or visit www.artsfestival.net.
When it comes to road races, Pittsburgh is old school all the way. Forget today's NASCAR and Indy cars - the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix (PVGP) is all about showing off the sleek style of yesterday's hottest rides. All of the classics, from Mustangs to Mercedes to MGs, will have heads turning when they roll into the city for Race Week July 8-16.
The PVGP is the largest vintage racing event in the country and promotes itself as the only one actually staged on city streets. And it's all for a good cause. Since its inception in 1983, the event has brought in nearly $2 million to help developmentally disabled individuals in the Pittsburgh area.
This year's PVGP is set to begin with several Historic Races July 8 and 9, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, at the BeaveRun MotorSports Complex in nearby Beaver Falls. There, you can watch Alfa Romeos take on Sprites and other tiny cars in one race, while Mustangs, Corvettes and other bigger models battle in another heat. All totaled, there are six groups, including one featuring Jaguars, the grand prix's featured model this year.
Car shows and cruises are planned at several locations in and around Pittsburgh throughout the week. The scenic Schenley Park, located near Carnegie Melon University, is the place to be on the closing weekend. On July 15, the park will be filled with a display of classic cars. The week will culminate with seven races, featuring the best of the best, from noon to 5 p.m. on July 16.
To learn more about the grand prix, visit www.pvgp.org or call 412/299-2273.
No snow, no problem
It's true, you really can go to New York's Holiday Valley without packing your skis. However, you should load up your golf clubs and pack the sunscreen for a summer stop in Ellicottville, New York.
The idyllic western New York mountain town known primarily for its sweet slopes will be filled with sweet sounds and warm sunshine as the Ellicottville Summer Festival of the Arts takes over from June 30 through July 2. While artists and craftsmen will be displaying their wares for your viewing (and buying) pleasure, the real treat at this festival is its slate of musical performances set against a spectacular backdrop.
The slopes of Holiday Valley, along with part of the first fairway at the resort's golf course, will be transformed into an amphitheater. On July 1, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra will draw from the "Force" to perform composer John Williams' dramatic and familiar favorites from "Star Wars." And, while it's not part of the movie, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture is always rousing and guaranteed to pump you up as a pre-July 4th fireworks display explodes in the star-lit sky above.
The next night, Tommy James and his Shondells will hit the stage to close out the festival with a little "Hanky Panky." Before the night is over, you will be singing "Crimson and Clover" over and over. Call 800/349-9099 to order $25 advance tickets for the concerts.
Even though the arts festival will take away a piece of the Holiday Valley Golf Course's first fairway, the 18-hole track will remain open for play. The course, which incorporates the area's mountainous terrain to add to its challenging layout, is in the midst of a major redesign to transform it into a "Double Black Diamond Golf Course." As you stare downhill at the ski run that is the par-three 17th hole, you'll quickly understand what they mean by that moniker.
After working up an appetite on the golf course, head into town and sample a taste of Ellicottville at Dina's Restaurant on Washington Street. Grab a table or belly up to the antique bar for your favorite beverage and a rack of tasty Cow Girl Ribs. For dessert, stroll over to Coolings Ice Cream Cafe, where you can order up a sweet treat to cool you down.
To learn more about Ellicottville, visit www.ellicottvilleny.com.
Western New York's Chautauqua Institution bills its nine-week summer program as "The Ultimate Summer Festival," and why not? With something on tap from dusk until dawn every day from June 24 to August 27 to entertain, educate and enlighten you, it's well worth the trip. This beautiful National Historic Landmark on Chautauqua Lake offers a summer schedule filled with choices.
If it's music you're looking for, the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Uriel Segal have a busy summer slated with 21 concerts and a long list of guest artists. Not to be outdone, the Chautauqua Opera Company will stage five performances: "The Marriage of Figaro," "Sister Angelica," "Gianni Schicchi," "Vanessa" and "The Gondoliers."
Rather hear some more contemporary sounds? The institution's entertainment series begins with a show by the Neville Brothers on June 24 and ends with '60s pop stars Gary Puckett and B.J. Thomas on August 26. The "Gambler" Kenny Rogers, "Puff the Magic Dragon" creators Peter, Paul and Mary and 1990s pop superstars Hootie & the Blowfish are among the well-known acts stopping at Chautauqua this summer.
Probably the most unique and intriguing offerings at Chautauqua are the lectures by renowned political, religious and media figures and social activists. Former Vice President Al Gore is scheduled to share his thoughts July 24, Ohio Congressman Michael Oxley takes the podium August 18 and national political columnist David Broder is on the program August 24. Other visitors throughout the summer will delve into current affairs, dissect ideologies and explore a myriad of scientific, social and political possibilities.
To learn more about Chautauqua and its summer plans, visit www.ciweb.org or call 716/357-6250.
Chautauqua Lake's Bemus Bay, located across the lake from the Chautauqua Institution, boasts one of the most unusual entertainment venues around - a floating stage, which serves as home to the Bemus Bay Pops Concert Series. Every Sunday afternoon from June 25 through September 3, landlubbers will gather on shore and boaters will drop anchor to watch the Bemus Bay Pops perform their free shows on the lake.
The season will open June 25 with the sounds of Frank Sinatra. Other highlights include tributes to Ray Charles and the Supremes on July 2 and Johnny Cash on July 16. The September 3 finale concert will include a dazzling fireworks display.
Also planned is a one-day Irish Festival at Bemus Bay on July 30, featuring a Celtic band, Irish dancers, fiddlers and authentic food and drink.
For more details about the Bemus Bay Pops, visit www.bemusbaypops.com.