RANDOLPH - Whether looking to enjoy a weekend getaway, or a longer stay, the Randolph community offers many opportunities to "Dine, Shop and Enjoy," as well as discover more than 221 historic properties.
According to Tonia Hall, executive director for the Randolph Area Community Development Corporation, although the town's next major celebration doesn't occur until Christmastime - it will be worth the wait - and in the meantime, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy a visit.
"We really like the enjoy part, because those of us who live here and those who visit find so many things to enjoy," Hall said. "Last year, Randolph was designated as a national and state historic district, and we're looking to develop that, not only as a benefit for our homeowners, but for tourism as well. We have such a great stock of different types of architecture. And, one of our goals is to become a Christmas-light destination that utilizes the historic homes."
Before the town's Christmas celebration, Randolph's downtown businesses will host a Black Friday event in November, and the following day will be small business Saturday.
"We have great little businesses, and we really encourage people to shop local," Hall said.
Located near the municipal building in Randolph, 72 Main St. is the southern entrance to New York's Amish Trail. The trail entrance offers a welcome center and guided tours. For more information, call 358-9701, ext. 208, or visit www.amishtrail.com.
"We offer 2-hour tours, that sometimes turn into a 3 to 4-hour tour, in which the tour guide rides in the car with you while you visit seven different shops," Hall said. "You get a real history and background of the old-order Amish community. We also have maps so you can go out on your own. It's wonderful to have that entirely different culture a couple miles from us - and we've worked with them to build a connection that helps their economy."
According to Hall, visiting Randolph in the fall and winter seasons can be exceptionally fun and beautiful because of the availability of outdoor recreation, and because it is centrally located between Jamestown, Chautauqua Lake, Allegany State Park and Ellicottville. One example of an outdoor opportunity is a visit to the local Alpaca farms, two of which are located near Randolph. A Slice Of Heaven Alpacas, www.asliceofheavenalpacas.com, is located at 11144 Pope Road in Randolph, and Cardinal Acre Alpacas is located at 9759 Manley Hill Road in Little Valley.
"It's wonderful being outside during this time of year, seeing the alpaca up close and to touch them to feel how soft their fleece is," Hall said.
Golf enthusiasts can also opt to enjoy a round on the 18-hole Cardinal Hills Golf Course, 78 Conewango Road. For more information, call 358-5409 or visit www.cardinalhillsny.com.
Each year, the RACDC hosts a Christmas celebration which highlights the aspects of the community that make it unique. It's an event that has been happening for as long as Hall can remember, she said. This year's theme is "Hometown Holidays."
Festivities will begin Friday, Dec. 6, with an event called "Eat In The Streets," which allows area restaurants to serve food out in the streets. The event will also feature a light show and live music.
One of the traditions of the event is to host a "Memory Tree" ceremony at 7:30 p.m., which allows the community to raise funds for the RACDC by purchasing $5 ornaments to be placed on a communal tree. Area residents are encouraged to write the name of a person they wish to memorialize on the ornament. Each name will be read during the ceremony, followed by the ringing of a bell. After the names have all been read, the tree is lit, and participants join in the singing of carols.
"Our list is very long - it's a beautiful ceremony," Hall said. "It's my favorite part of the whole Christmas weekend."
Events are also scheduled all day long on Saturday, Dec. 7, beginning with a parade hosted by Expressions Performing Arts Center of Randolph beginning at 11 a.m., and the community is invited to participate. Those who wish to participate may call 499-3513. The parade itself hasn't been held in the past few years, but now that the EPAC has decided to take on the project it will make a return to this year's celebration, said Hall.
"We wanted to bring it back, but we really needed somebody that could take it and make it their own," Hall said. "What Expressions has done is they've taken the parade, and put the same theme into it as their annual holiday dance recital, which is held the following weekend on Saturday, Dec. 14."
Following the parade, Santa will appear to lead children and their families to the Randolph Library, 26 Jamestown St., where he will be available for parents to take photos for free from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Upon leaving the library, children will be provided with a goodie bag and a map for a scavenger hunt.
"Each of the businesses listed on the map will give them different goodies to fill up their bag," Hall said. "The participating businesses will also have lighted Christmas trees."
The East Randolph United Methodist Church will also host a "Living Nativity," which will feature actors and animals, at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 6 p.m. on Sunday. And, a holiday craft fair will be held at Randolph Central School from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Area residents may also look toward the spring, when the RACDC hosts its annual Arts and Crafts festival on June 14, which is in its 42nd year. The RACDC also hosts a live local and regional musician series in the Randolph park each Friday during July and August.
According to Hall, many local businesses and organizations are closed on Sundays and Mondays, so Tuesday through Saturday are the best days to visit. For more information, call 358-9701, visit randolphny.com or search for "Randolph Area Community Development Corporation" on Facebook.