The Square, The Taste, and Shakespeare, oh my!

Last weekend was definitely a busy one. As I've said before, there are dozens of things to do on any given day, and I'm really enjoying trying to hit as many of them as I can.

The weekend started with another Buffalo favorite, Thursday at the Square. Since 1986, Buffalonians have enjoyed this free concert series which takes place in Lafayette Square, downtown Buffalo. Some of my personal favorite shows ever have been at the Square. The music is always great and there always an abundance of positive energy and Buffalo pride that flows freely through the crowd. Thursdays at the Square are produced by Buffalo Place, the same group that does the Buffalo Rocks the Harbor series. This week's act was Ozomatli, a Latin/funk/hip-hop group from L.A. I knew I had to be ready to shake my groove thang, and shake it I did! The high-energy performance from the band had me and the rest of the crowd dancing in spite of the overwhelming heat. The series runs through August 12 and I encourage anyone who's never been, or who hasn't gone in a while to check it out!

I started my Saturday with another trip to the Bidwell farmers market, and from there headed downtown. On my walk from my car to Niagara Square, I was delighted to stumble upon the Buffalo Book Fair. I'm a big fan of books in general so I stopped and walked around the fair for a little while. There were bookselller tents at which I was tempted to spend all of my money. The fair also featured book signings, seminars, readings, and workshops. From there we walked the few blocks to Niagara Square for the Taste of Buffalo.

The Taste of Buffalo started in 1984 and has become the largest two-day food festival in the country. When I was in L.A. I bragged about how great the food in Buffalo is. The people who come from all over the country just to sample it at "The Taste" are proof of that! The event features all kinds of demos, workshops, and even live music, but I only go to do one thing: eat! There's always a huge variety of food so even picky eaters can find something to enjoy. I myself am a pescetarian (I eat fish, but no meat) and there were still plenty of options for me to stuff my face with! Some of my favorite dishes were the Saag Channa from Tandoori's (I have a thing for Indian food - YUM!) and the watermelon sorbet from Sweet Melody's - it was just the right amount of watermelon flavor without being too sweet, and the little chocolate chips were a great treat. A little shout out goes out to my friends at Bing's restaurant. Their artichokes gratinee won the award for best vegetarian dish. Congrats guys! You can sample the dish at the Italian Festival - going on now through the end of the weekend!

After the Taste, I decided to check out the Really Really Free Market. My brother and I had some old CDs to unload and we were interested to see if there would be anything worth picking up. Let's just say the market was a little disappointing. The items weren't even on tables. Rather, they were scattered across the overgrown lawn. Unfortunately the event seemed really unorganized. I have nothing against hippies, and I support any group that encourages the community to recycle, but in all honesty this "market" seemed to be little more than a bunch of dirty hippies trying to score some free stuff. Get it together, guys! Clean some of your junk before you donate it, get a table, and take a shower.

Finally on Saturday evening, some friends and I headed to Delaware Park to catch a performance of Shakespeare in the Park. Only New York City can boast a bigger (in terms of attendance) outdoor Shakespeare festival. The performances began in 1976 and take place on what has come to be called "Shakespeare hill" next to the rose gardens of Buffalo's Delaware Park. Last weekend marked the end of the first play of the summer, Much Ado About Nothing. This production of the play was set post-World War II, and featured some of the music of that era. I was surprised by the wide age range of the audience. Even groups of high school-aged kids seemed to be enjoying themselves. Audience members are encouraged to bring chairs, and picnics, and did I mention it's a completely free event?! The next production (An all-female performance of Macbeth) starts on July 22 and runs through August 15. I should mention that even though the event is free, attendees are asked to make donations during intermission, which I encourage everyone to do in order to keep this great Buffalo tradition alive!

Unfortunately for me, Shakespeare hill is the last place I remember having my camera, so the pictures I have were taken on my iphone.