What Is Left Of Summer?

Now that you’ve eaten peaches, piles of corn and all of that watermelon, what is left of summer?

You’ve been on your neighbor’s boat by now, slurped a Rocker on a rocker at the Hotel Lenhart, and read a dog-eared book on your porch. You caught a concert at Chautauqua Institution, walked your dog silly and went to bed most nights long after the stars came out.

So what is left of summer now?

Maybe now is when the ambition of your summer plans can take a back seat to just loafing around. Nowhere special to go, nothing special to do. You can just wander around until the mood strikes you to head in a certain direction, like the patio at the Southern Tier Brewery or the swimming hole at the Chautauqua Gorge.

It’s all about you now.

But how about getting a little crazy? Wander a little farther than you usually do, find something new and novel to cap off your summer? Here are some of your best bets.

Findley Lake Harvest Festival — When was the last time you drove down to sweet little Findley Lake? Five thousand people made the trip last year from miles around for their annual Harvest Festival. If a craft beer tent and wine tastings don’t grab you, then how about live music, antiques and other vendors from one end of town to the other? The festival will be held for three days — Aug. 31-Sept. 2. It’s the perfect weekend for a little ride out of town. Savor the last of the green hills on your way.

The Pittsburgh Irish Festival — If you’ve had enough celebration of your Swedish or Italian roots this summer, why not become Irish for a weekend? The Pittsburgh Irish Festival is one long weekend of Irish entertainment, dancing, drinking, Highland gaming and merry making in that wonderful little town along the three rivers. It’s within a three-hour drive of Jamestown and is worth the trip just for the Celtic axe throwing games alone, right? Irish food and beer and Celtic crafts and arts are offered with continuous entertainment in four performance areas (think step dancing). There’s also a place to search your family roots. Here’s something that might lure your wife there: the Irish Design Center. They’ll have all sorts of wooly sweaters and interesting textiles to look through. Sept. 7-9 at the Pittsburgh Riverplex. www.pghirishfest.org

New York State Fair — Did you know New York state has the first and longest-running state fair? And this year’s 12-day event is slated to be bigger and better than ever. (Did they say that last year?) But this year they mean that literally with the addition of a brand new $63 million exposition center right on the Syracuse fair grounds. Thankfully, the fair staples aren’t going anywhere, so you’ll still find incredible free live music performances across six venues, arts and crafts, fireworks, old cars, live animals, every kind of competition imaginable, and more food than a professional fair-goer would know what to do with. New this year: an ice rink, a celebration of beef (think burgers), a food truck competition, an homage to history, the celebration of maple syrup and more. It is Aug. 22-Sept. 3.

Baseball Hall of Fame — You’ve been saying you’ve been meaning to go there for a decade, so why not finally head to The National Baseball Hall of Fame in graceful, pretty Cooperstown? Featuring more than 60,000 square feet of exhibit space to display countless treasures from baseball’s glorious past, there’s plenty to explore. And Cooperstown is a wonderful town to poke around in. It’s a great time to go now that summer is waning away and the crowds have thinned.

Saratoga — I really mean this when I say the Travers Horse Race in Saratoga, N.Y. is one of the best experiences to be had in this state. It’s a graceful, old fashioned horse track, reminiscent of days gone by. Where else can you go back in time for $15? The race-Travers Stakes–dates back to 1864. Nicknamed Saratoga’s Midsummer Derby, it is a Grade 1, $1,000,000 race for 3-year-olds, traditionally held on the last Saturday in August each year. And I’ll tell you a secret: Saratoga is a fantastic town with great food and shops and good hotels. You can’t help but have fun there. It is Aug. 25.

Letchworth State Park — Every year, I say I’m going to Letchworth State Park because everyone knows how spectacular it is, how close to Jamestown it actually is, and how lucky we are to have it. Someone please drag me there before I get too old to enjoy it. Called the “Grand Canyon of the East,” the park is one of the most scenically magnificent areas in the eastern U.S. The Genesee River roars through the gorge over three major waterfalls between cliffs — as high as 600 feet in some places — surrounded by lush forests. And you don’t have to be Davey Crocket to enjoy it. Just standing in the middle of the park at sea level on an autumn day is as beautiful a thing as you might ever see. It’s less than two hours to Castile, N.Y.

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