Fairgrounds sustains storm damage
As a result of damage incurred during last week's unprecedented lake effect storm, the opening of a beloved Western New York holiday tradition has been delayed one week.
The 10th annual Fairgrounds Festival of Lights, the region's largest annual holiday festival, was scheduled to open the day after Thanksgiving. A new opening date for the Festival of Lights has been scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5.
"After an extensive tour of the grounds and an assessment of damage, we felt it necessary to give our crews an additional week to secure the fairgrounds for the Festival," said Dennis Lang, Erie County Agricultural Society CEO. "We can assure the community that this popular Western New York Christmas tradition will continue despite the temporary setback due to the heavy snow."
Now in its 10th year, the festival has expanded from a simple, outdoor drive-thru to become one of the largest holiday events in the northeast U.S. This "winter wonderland" on the fairgrounds features activities for all ages, including indoor amusement rides, take-home crafts, entertainment and, of course, Santa. From the 75 illuminated displays along the drive-thru route to the walkthrough portion spanning five buildings, and the length of 42nd Street, the Festival of Lights is home to more than 1 million LED bulbs.
New to the 2014 festival is the "North Pole Experience" located inside the Marketplace Building, featuring a toyshop, elf village, the artic, and Santa's house (where Santa can be found every night of the festival). Also added to the festival is the "One Buffalo Express Train," sponsored by Pegula Sports and Entertainment, which will offer patrons a ride around the festival grounds.
The remaining Festival of Lights dates are scheduled for Dec. 5-7, 12-14 and 26-28. Gates open between 5 and 9 p.m. (buildings and grounds are open until 10 p.m.). Admission to the Festival of Lights is $20 per carload. Patrons can save 50 percent with pre-sale tickets for $10 at the event center box office (weekdays, 9 a.m.to 4:30 p.m.), or at participating local Tops Friendly Markets locations (until Saturday, Dec. 6).