In the 2001 movie Osmosis Jones, Bill Murray's character dreams of attending the National Buffalo Wing Festival. Although that made for an amusing plot point, there was a problem: at the time, no such festival existed. When Buffalo native Drew Cerza heard about this oversight, he realized that it was a wrong that needed righting. He threw his inaugural festival that same year, and the rest is meaty, sauce-slathered history. Now, every Labor Day weekend, wing fans flock to Buffalo, and they usually bring their appetites to chow through one million-plus wings over the duration of the festival.
At each festival, restaurant representatives travel to Coca-Cola Field to share their tastiest, hottest sauces with festivalgoers. A select group of buffalo wing purists participate in the festival's traditional and creative sauce competitions, whipping up sauces onstage before serving their concoctions to a panel of local celebrity judges. The sauce-off is one of the festival's many contests, which also include wing eating competitions and bobbing for wings in a pool of blue cheese.
Aside from the many wing-based events, the festival features entertainment ranging from live music to live quiz shows. In 2006, the festival even hosted a wedding, fulfilling every father's fantasy of grabbing a snack as he accompanies his daughter down the aisle.
If a time traveler hopped from The Rapid Theatre in 1921 to the same spot in modern times, they would think their time machine was broken. Lovingly restored to its early 20th century luster, the former movie house dazzles visitors with columned walls, a sculpted ceiling, and a brick tapestry facade. All that has changed is what goes on inside. These days, the venue—which accommodates up to 1,700 entertainment enthusiasts or 3,400 stacked children in trench coats—fills its stage with major music acts. The handicap-accessible facility also slakes sing-along induced thirst with two fully stocked bars.
Herbert Konzelmann was in a pickle. He took the reins of his great-grandfather’s winery in Germany just around the time that the country’s growing population needed more land. Unable to acquire the acreage he needed to expand, Herbert uprooted his business from his homeland and moved to Niagara-on-the-Lake in 1983. He chose the shorefront spot due to its balance of sun, soil, airflow, and moisture that mimics the climate of the many successful wineries started inside of deserted terrariums. He and his staff—many of whom are part of the Konzelmann family—strive to produce low-yield, high-quality wines. To achieve this, they handpick grapes from the oldest vines to create award-winning vintages in their signature style: a clean, delicate, and fruity pour. The lush lakefront vineyard also serves as a backdrop for weddings, corporate events, tours, and tasting.
During the weekend of April 26–28, 2013, representatives from local and international wineries, breweries, and restaurants flock to the Scotiabank Convention Centre to showcase their specialties. While experts from Vines Magazine lead tutored tastings, local musical acts such as Jesse Parent and Duo d’Amore perform onstage. Elsewhere, chefs demonstrate their signature dishes on the chef stage and a silent auction to benefit the Breast Cancer Society of Canada lets guests bid on guided tours by experts, such as Iron Chef America’s Kevin Brauch.
On Elite Tours of Niagara Falls' expeditions, participants can look down on the iconic waterfall from a helicopter or follow a footpath behind its massive curtain of water. Boat rides offer a perspective from calmer water, and the views from the observation deck are far preferable to the views from a surfboard.
However, the company's guided tours occasionally eschew the waterfall in favor of other local landmarks. To wit, a winery tour highlights local vintages, and a wintertime tour showcases holiday-lights festivals. Even those tours centered on the waterfall make stops at other scenic locales, such as a butterfly conservatory.