Environmental preservation, rehabilitation, and education abound at Hawk Creek Wildlife Center, a sanctuary harboring more than 80 nonreleasable animals from around the globe, a number of which have made on-screen appearances with the likes of Rachael Ray and Conan O’Brien. In its 25th year, the nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization hosts more than 2,500 educational programs and numerous events showcasing its panoply of raptors, wildcats, and barn owls, that, since 1994, have blossomed thanks to Hawk Creek’s barn-owl-breeding project. Hands-on activities place visitors face-to-face with the facility’s feathered residents—including a bald eagle—and an onsite gift shop brims with ornithological souvenirs and signed headshots of Big Bird.
There are more than 2,000 short tracks in the United States. Among them, fewer than 60 are NASCAR-sanctioned. Holland NASCAR Motorsports Complex is one of the few with such distinction. The raceway has guzzled the fumes of that rarified air since 1960, when it was built as a 1/3-mile facility surrounded by just 1,200 seats. In 1964, the course expanded to 3/8 mile, and four years later, asphalt replaced the outdated shag carpeting as the track's surface. Today, Holland packs up to 7,000 spectators into its grandstands. It completes the race-day experience with various amenities, including The Midway, where fans can fuel up on snacks and drinks, and The Village, where fans party under large tents and around picnic tables.
It isn't called a laboratory for nothing, even if the light fixtures aren't actually made from converted beakers. At Buffalo Laboratory Theatre, classic plays get experimental makeovers and new works make their stage debuts. Even if an audience believes they are watching a straightforward staging of a time-honored production such as Hamlet, they can rest assured that something is different—the actors might have relied on a unique rehearsal technique, or the director may have devised an entirely new presentational style. By keeping their work fresh and unpredictable, the artists at BLT aim to make every raise of the curtain a magical experience.
The chopper controllers at Western New York Helicopters steer flight instruction that ranges from one-time introductory experiences to complete pilot certification. The resident fleet of R44s and S-300Cs gamely trucks the earthbound on any aeronautic needs, from local tours to power line patrols to diplomatic negotiations with the owl kingdom. Launching from Hamburg Airport just 15 miles south of Buffalo, the happy hoverers direct air traffic from both Canadian and stateside pilots-to-be.
The University at Buffalo is one of the flagship schools of the SUNY system, and facilitates 20 Division I athletic teams. Football fans can head to the 29,000-seat UB Stadium to cheer on the team as they juke, jive, and shutterbug their way to victory. Newly hired football coach Jeff Quinn has led teams to five conference championships in his past eight seasons, and the Bulls defense will be helmed by preseason All-American safety Davonte Shannon.