By Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette — Free concerts, street entertainment and recent blockbuster movies are all set to return to Old Falls Street this summer. There are some new things coming as well, though, as event organizers and marketing gurus at Global Spectrum attempt to once again capitalize on what promises to be a strong tourist season.
Everything from new, outdoor dining opportunities to some mobile businesses paying a visit to the landscaped street will continue to pull people to the street to experience what Niagara Falls has to offer, said Ryan Coate, general manager of Old Falls Street and the Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls.
One of the new offerings hitting Old Falls Street will be some new food offerings, both thanks to some visiting food trucks this summer and its own chef, who will be offering some healthy alternatives along with some classic additions for people in the area.
"What we've done is create a fresh, new menu filled with great tasting food, some vegetarian items," Chef Kate Elliott said. "We feel this will lend itself to helping visitors to the Falls continuing their memorable experiences they're already having here in the area."
Food trucks, meanwhile, will be setting up shop along Old Falls Street regularly on Mondays and Tuesdays, with Amy's Truck kicking off each week and popular American food vendor The Roaming Buffalo visiting Tuesdays. Joining the Tuesday crowd will be a unique mobile store with the inclusion of Ooo La La Fashion Truck, an offshoot of an East Aurora women's clothing boutique run by recent Buffalo State College graduate Crista Botticello.
The Old Falls Street experience will also include several live performances and interactions with Encounter Niagara reenactors on scene with the likes of Nikola Tesla, Annie Edson Taylor and other famous Falls-related historical figures.
Jazzy Sundays are returning again, as well, with Legends Bar & Grill sponsoring afternoon concerts featuring regional jazz, dixieland and big band artists and groups. Beginning at 2 p.m. July 7 and running through Aug. 25, the concerts offer animal owners with leashes a chance to enjoy some public entertainment with their four-legged friends in tow.
The street's movie series also returns this year, with the wildly successful "The Hunger Games" kicking off the outdoor experience beginning at 9 p.m. July 11. Other popular flicks include "Disney's The Muppets" (Aug. 1), "Marvel's The Avengers" (Aug. 15) and "Ghostbuster's" (Aug. 29).
June will also feature one of the area's largest festivals, when the Niagara Falls Music and Arts Festival takes over the street. From 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. June 29 and 30, there will be more than 50 artists of all varieties and 40 music acts on three stages. It's believed the festival will draw a large crowd each day with a Canadian holiday the next day, event coordinator Rick Crogan said.
The events on Old Falls Street have many in the community excited for the summer months ahead. Mayor Paul Dyster said the planning involved and the execution has made Old Falls Street successful despite the city's tough financial situation brought on by a casino revenue stalemate between New York State and the Seneca Nation of Indians.
"I think we all recognize just how important events-based strategies are in brining investment to the downtown area," Dyster said. "We're proceeding under some very difficult circumstances, with the casino money not coming in. But eventually the situation is going to be resolved. And when it does, watch out world, because here comes Old Falls Street."
For a complete list of all events offered on Old Falls Street, go online to www.fallsstreet.com or call 278-2100.Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.