By Terry Duffy
Summer is now entering mid-stride with a jam-packed schedule of events on the calendar that doesn't seem to end.
The Alexa Foundation's Great Contraption Race runs at 11 a.m. today on the lower Niagara River from Lewiston to Youngstown, followed by an afternoon party at Old Fort Niagara State Park.
Inside Old Fort Niagara, "Soldiers of the Revolution" plays out this weekend.
In Lewiston, the Broadway musical "Peter Pan" opened Thursday and continues on stage at Artpark until Aug. 7. In Lockport, the Niagara County Fair opens Aug. 5 and runs to Aug. 9. Returning to Lewiston, the 49th annual Lewiston Art Festival takes over Center Street next weekend, and the annual Spirit of the 80's takes place inside Academy Park with anticipated concerts next Friday and Saturday evening.
Seems the fun of summer never misses a beat, especially in northern Niagara.
Activities continue Saturday, Aug. 8, in Youngstown with the return of the community picnic. Dating to 2004, when the Village of Youngstown hosted a community picnic in celebration of its 150th anniversary, this happening has now become a tradition.
And it promises a day of fun and friendship for residents and visitors alike.
Organized this year by Village of Youngstown trustees Tim Adamson and Stu Comerford, this year's picnic day opens at 8 a.m. with the always-popular Children's Fishing Derby on the village south docks on Water Street. Sponsored by the Niagara River Angler's Association, the derby runs to noon. Kids of all ages are invited to try their luck.
The picnic party then moves uphill to Falkner Park on Main Street, with a slate of family fun on the schedule. Stop by the village flagpole for opening ceremonies. Included will be a presentation of colors by Boy Scout and Venturing Crew Troop 829, performances of the Canadian and U.S. national anthems by Marsha and Monte Jones of Step in Time, welcome remarks by Youngstown Mayor Raleigh Reynolds and opening prayers by George Brown.
Prizes for best catches from the Children's Fishing Derby will follow.
From there, it's lunchtime in the village. On the menu will be hot dogs, hamburgers and beverages provided by the Village of Youngstown. The Youngstown Lions will grill up the hot dogs and hamburgers while the Youngstown Baptist Church is coordinating the food service tent.
Families are invited to bring a dish to pass. Look for specialty dishes by area eateries, including the Youngstown Village Diner, Main Street Pizzeria, Bandana's and Jaguar at the Bistro.
Plan on making a day of it at the park, for there will be displays and activities galore for all ages from noon to 4 p.m.
Kids activities include: the Bounce-N-Around bounce house, use of the Falkner wading pool, a visit by the Shenandoah Acres Petting Zoo, face-painting sponsored by the Youngstown First Presbyterian Church youth group in the picnic shelter, fire truck rides by the Youngstown Volunteer Fire Co. on Second Street, a children's craft corner by Michelle Deutschman and balloon animals by Donuts the Clown.
That's not all.
Kids can also get creative in the Sidewalk Chalk Walk Contest organized by Kathy Zasucha of the Town of Porter Recreation Department from noon to 2 p.m. And in the center park area at Falkner, look for games, contests and more. Starting at 1:30 p.m., the Youngstown Recreation Commission will sponsor old-fashioned games for the little ones, including wheelbarrow and potato sack races and water balloon and egg toss contests.
Prizes will be awarded, courtesy of Main Street Pizzeria, the Mug & Musket Tavern, The Village Diner, Asker's, Hibbard's, The Silo Restaurant, the Lewiston Event Center and the Aquarium of Niagara.
To cool off, a watermelon-eating contest organized by Rob Reismann will take place at 1:30 p.m., and the Youngstown Business and Professional Association will sponsor an ice cream sundae station for the afternoon.
Visitors of all ages will be able to check out a variety of activities, informational tables and displays. Included will be a SPCA puppy kissing booth and a visit by Wild Kritters.
At 1:30 p.m., the Youngstown Heritage Tours and Tourism Committee will hold a dedication ceremony at the kiosk on Main Street in honor of past village Historian Donald Ames. And at 2:30 p.m., the 1812 Bicentennial Peace Garden Committee will have a ceremonial release of 4,500 ladybugs in the Peace Garden at Falkner with area children joining in.
Throughout the day, feel free to check out displays and activities provided by the Youngstown Free Library, Old Fort Niagara, U.S. Coast Guard Station Niagara, Town of Porter Historical Society, Youngstown Heritage Tours and Tourism (which will feature a book-signing by author Gretchen Duling), Lake Ontario VFW Post 313, the Lewiston-Porter Alumni Association (which will hold a basket raffle) the 1812 Bicentennial Peace Garden Committee and Niagara Jet Adventures.