SHERMAN - A 1-mile forest trail located at the Blue Heron grounds in Sherman will be filled with colorful lighting, artwork and live music beginning Friday.
Night Lights At The Heron, an annual agri-eco tourism attraction which utilizes LED technology to to illuminate a Western New York landscape, has returned for its fifth season. The grounds will be open each Friday and Saturday night through Oct. 5. It will also be open on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, which is Sept. 1.
According to Doug Sitler, organizer, those who have never been to Night Lights At The Heron or Night Lights at the Botanical Gardens in Buffalo, should imagine walking on a 1-mile trail in the forest at night, where the landscapes are transformed with ever-changing colorful lighting that highlights the various aspects of the plant life and landscapes.
"We are thrilled to celebrate our fifth year lighting up the woods for visitors at The Heron," said Sitler. "We love the challenge of transforming the beautiful Chautauqua County landscape into a wonderful, exploratory piece of art that will leave a remarkable impression on our guests. Simply put, there's nothing like this place in North America."
A majority of the lighting utilized during the event is LED technology, and in some cases, guests will have the opportunity to interact with the lighting. The effect the LED lighting creates is a spectacular thing for guests to experience, however, according to Sitler, the focal point of the event is to highlight the natural landscapes of the Heron's lush forests, ponds and trails.
Participants will walk a smooth 1-mile trail past ponds and into a forest filled with colorful lighting schemes and art, said Sitler.
"We've added a lot of different things to the trails," said Sitler. "Steve French, from Volt Vision, will create an interactive display in a nook in the woods. We've also created a few other things like a secret lighted trail, some artwork and a few other surprises that we'll let people discover."
Eventually guests will encounter the Cafe in the Woods; a combination cafe and performance stage. Every Saturday night, Night Lights features entertainment ranging from bands, authors, artists and a magician.
"We try to come up with an entertainment lineup that we feel would appeal to people of all ages," said Sitler. "I'm really excited about Liz Berlin's solo show. She is a very talented individual, and being from one of our favorite bands, Rusted Root, it's an honor for us to bring her to the unique and intimate setting that is the Cafe In The Woods."
Specifically, the Night Lights will feature acts such as: The Modified Nouns, which features former members of Big Leg Emma; The Sun King Warriors, which is Rusted Root founding member Jim Donovan's current band; Beyond The Illusion, a four-piece Jamestown-based band; Mason Winfield, an author of supernatural and paranormal books based on upstate New York; Gretchen Clark, Lily Dale medium; and Black Rock Zydeco, a Buffalo-based Cajun and Creole dance music band.
Night Lights will also feature a two-day Fall Music Festival on Sept. 13-14, which will include nearly 20 bands. Some of the acts for the event include: Marco Benevento, The Heavy Pets, Schleigho, Jimkata, The Manhattan Project, Lazlo Hollyfeld, Smackdab, Aqueous, Aircraft, Funktional Flow, DJ Cutler, Universe Shark and others. For more information visit www.nightlightsfest.com.
The Night Lights season will conclude on Saturday, Oct. 5, with a celebration which features Spun Out Fire Productions, a group that practices fire spinning. For more information visit www.sofp.webs.com.
The 1-mile trail is situated in Amish country on a 200-acre certified-organic farm, the Green Heron Growers, which is operated by Julie and Steve Rockcastle. Julie is one of the founding partners of the Great Blue Heron music festival.
According to Julie Rockcastle, one reason she and Steve host Night Lights and other Heron events is because they want people to experience the place.
"Way back in the beginning, when I came back to Jamestown and found out my parents had this beautiful piece of land in Sherman, I could only feel content to take on stewardship for the land if there was a way to share it with others," said Rockcastle. "Nights Lights extends our window of opportunity to have people enjoy the land through August, September and into October.
"We also think of Night Lights as our 'agri-eco tourism attraction' because the Green Heron Growers Farm Store is open and people can learn a bit more about that aspect of what we do during the peak of our farming season," continued Julie. "The more people we can get to come out to The Heron, the more we figure they'll come back again for something else."
The grounds will be open to the public from dusk to 11 p.m. each Friday and Saturday through Oct. 5. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children 7-12 years old and 6 years and under are free. The Heron is located at 2361 Wait Corners Road in Sherman. For more information, or to view the full schedule of entertainment, visit heronnightlights.com.