Development of the Roycroft Campus began in 1897 by author, lecturer, and entrepreneur Elbert Hubbbard, who sought to create a utopian society of artisans in reaction to the mass production of the Industrial Age. Drawing on inspiration by leaders of the arts-and-crafts movement in the UK, Hubbard founded the Roycroft Press to produce monthly publications, books, and elaborate conspiracy theories. After gaining international recognition for an essay he wrote in 1899, Hubbard was able to further expand and promote the Roycroft community, erecting 13 additional buildings on the campus over the next decade.
In its prime, the community was home to 23 presses and more imported handmade paper than all American printing institutions combined. More than 500 resident artists worked in wood, stained glass, and copper, and Roycroft became a thriving mecca for craftsmen, authors, artists, and philosophers. In 1986, the campus was designated a national historic landmark. Today it is home to 9 of the original 14 structures, preserved and restored throughout the last 17 years by the Roycroft Campus Corporation and open for exploration during guided walking tours.
Despite spending most of their 125-plus-year history as a minor-league organization, the Bisons began play as a major-league club from 1879–85. All told, nearly 3,000 players and managers have donned the Bisons uniform, including 20 who have been immortalized in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Currently, the Bisons compete every summer for an International League title, as well as the Thruway Cup—a regional- and bragging rights–based trophy chased by the Bisons, the Rochester Red Wings, and the Syracuse Chiefs. The Bisons have done half of their competing since 1988 at Coca-Cola Field, which boasts the largest video board in the minors and an infield kept moist by hoses that spray water and not soda as the field’s name would suggest.
The horseback riding instructors at Rolling Acres Farm & Retreat divulge the secrets of horsemanship via lessons, trail rides through the surrounding hills, and summer day camps. Instruction focuses on the disciplines of english and western pleasure riding, helping riders of every skill level develop confidence as they command a lesson horse that remain steady even over turbulent terrain or late-autumn river forges. At summer camp, kids ages 6 to 15 receive a horse that is theirs for the week, providing ample opportunity to learn how to ride, groom, tack, and feed a horse.
Perched at the bow of the pirate ship, the captain's parrot braces for stormy weather. But in the case of the pirate-ship inflatable at Pirates Plank, the feeling of choppy waves isn't generated by water below, but by the youngsters hopping on it. Kids can also jump around on a Pirates of the Caribbean–themed bounce house before navigating around the tranquil ponds decorating the 18-hole miniature-golf course.
Elsewhere, Pirates Plank hosts races on its go-kart track, gamers in its video arcade, and players in its batting cages aiming for homers or to hit balls back into the machine they came from. The snack bar keeps visitors reenergized with tasty treats, and birthday parties entice attendees with unlimited soda and popcorn, arcade tokens for each guest, and mini-golf passes for future visits.
Between rugged cliffs stretching hundreds of feet toward the sky, a foaming river surges toward waterfalls and gentle tributaries. Upon its arching rapids tumble buoyant rafts, ferrying animated passengers who scream with delight at each bump along the way or sudden bald eagle sighting. For the experienced guides at Zoar Valley Canoe and Rafting Company, this is an everyday experience.
Currently celebrating its 43rd season, the U.S. Sailing Association–accredited Seven Seas Sailing School of Buffalo offers landlubbers a taste of the aquatic life aboard sailboats manned by U.S. Coast Guard–certified captains. The team regularly exercises budding sailors' sea legs with certification courses and a seven-part Basic Sail program, and has also instructed students with multiple sclerosis and worked with the Sea Scouts to construct the world's first brick sailboat as part of a mission to take down rogue lighthouses. Seven Seas' headquarters on the Buffalo Ship Canal, complete with on-shore barbecues, a gazebo, and dockside gardens, hosts regular Friday-night family Sailabration events that combine food and fireworks with lively cruises and contests. When not sailing through their own programs, Seven Seas' captains and boats have been featured as crews in The Sullivans and Bruce Almighty.
Sean and Hannah Maurer founded Lake Lane Fishing and Hunting Getaway so families could have a place to experience the outdoors together. The fishing grounds—a trout pond, a second pond with bass, bluegills, and bullhead catfish, and a creek—stay open all year for fishing by appointment, and since Lake Lane is a New York State Fishing Preserve, no license is required. In addition to renting gear and selling bait, the staff teaches angling basics, such as how to fly fish or catch a fish directly in your mouth. The 2013 Sports Show on June 1 and 2 features a free youth fishing tournament. Adults must pay a $25 registration fee for a trout and bass tourney, but cash prizes will be awarded to all age groups. Pre-registration is recommended.
Lake Lane's hunting grounds host both small and big game, including wild turkey and white-tailed deer. A shooting range also caters to hunters with bow and rifle targets. In order to help guests extend their outdoor adventures, campsites for self-contained tents and campers are available, and the Maurers have plans to introduce all-season cabins equipped with outlets for sno-cone machines in the near future.
Members of Lake Lane Fishing and Hunting Getaway get special privileges, such as entry in the monthly trout and bass fishing tournament. Additionally, Lake Lane hosts special annual events, including a sports show and chicken barbecue, and the Maurers operate a small lumberyard and sawmill onsite that offers custom furniture from black walnut coffee tables to computers made of solid oak.