by Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette — Lewiston Police Chief Chris Salada wants Lewiston Cocktail Festival party-goers to have some fun Saturday. The inaugural event has already distributed more than 500 tickets with more expected to show up day-of.
But while the event is about having a good time and enjoying a tasty drink concoction, there's a concern the alcohol involved could find its way out into the street.
With Center Street not closed off for this festival, open container laws are in effect and drinks must remain on bar and restaurant property, he said.
"I'm going to have an extra traffic car parked on Center Street just to be safe," he said. "I think it's going to be a good event, As it grows, I guess I'll have to adjust, but we'll have patrols monitoring the street throughout the night making sure everyone's safe."
What could affect turnout to the first festival of the new year is the weather. Early forecasts predict the temperatures to dip below freezing for Saturday, with highs near 26 degrees. Low temps could fall into the teens.
But festival creator and organizer Jon DiBernardo of Water Street Landing said weather shouldn't play too much of a factor given it's Western New York and it is always looking for a good time.
"People get thirsty no matter what temperature it is," he said. "And we're here to help. The people in Western New York are going to do what we do best, and that's entertain ourselves."
The festival kicks off at 4 p.m. Saturday and features 13 participating restaurants and bars. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at many of these establishments through 4 p.m. today. After that, tickets will be available through 10 p.m. Saturday at The Brickyard Pub & BBQ, The Lewiston Stone House and Water Street Landing.
Parking will be available at each of the establishments, as well as on the street. The Village Bake Shoppe also has parking available for festival-goers.
Anyone who purchases a ticket will receive a commemorative feather and a passport book with information on all of the samplings the bars will be offering, as well as historical information about the cocktail and its Lewiston history.
That history has been important to DiBernardo since he flirted with the idea of the festival. Lewiston, in some circles, is believed to be the birthplace of the drink.Such claims stem from Hustler's Tavern, a drinking establishment owned by Catherine Hustler and her husband, Tom, on what is now Center Street before Lewiston was burned to the ground in 1813. It's said she hosted author James Fenimore Cooper, who wrote in his novel, "The Spy," that Betty Flannigan – a character he based on Hustler – plucked a tail feather from a rooster and used it to stir a drink.
There are stories of cocktail creation around the world, but Lewiston's claim is what's being celebrated Saturday. And with the help of nine members of the Marble Orchard Players, the history will come alive as actors travel from bar to bar to make their presence known.
For more on the festival, go online to www.lewistoncocktailfestival.com. The website has a full list of participating bars and restaurants. It is an all-ages event with non-alcoholic drinks also available.
Editor's Note: Reporter Timothy Chipp is a member of the Marble Orchard Players and portrays Cooper. He will participate in Saturday's festival along with the rest of the cast.