ELLICOTTVILLE - Every year at about this time, as the temperatures drop, the trees are aglow in browns, yellows and reds, and the lifts start to go up and down the slopes in Ellicottville. Fall Fest is upon the region once again.
With around 250 vendors, ranging from food and crafts, down to items for the slopes, the streets of Ellicottville will be packed from start to stop throughout the weekend. This year's event, encompassing the same area as in years past, acts as a bit of a preview of the coming ski season, as friends from north of the border, as well as those from other places in the states, start to converge on the little village smack dab in the middle of Cattaraugus County.
Today at 9 a.m., the festivities get going with the opening of Sky High Adventure Park, at the Tannenbaum Lodge at Holiday Valley. At 11 a.m., the mountain coaster will also start runs for those brave enough to cruise the mountainside. Both of those parks will close for the day at 6 p.m., just as the sun starts to set over the hill. For those that have not been on the hill, when that sun goes down, it really goes fast.
From noon until 7 p.m., the Mountain Shop Tent Sale will be going on, offering those items for the slopes, at the Resort Service Plaza Deck. At 4 p.m., the Ski Swap Sale and check in will be going on until 8 p.m. at the Creekside Lodge. From 7-11 p.m., at Balloons, 20 Monroe St., will have The Porcelain Busdrivers on stage.
In the village, the food court will kick off the festival for a 6 p.m. opening, serving early birds on Jefferson Street until 10 p.m.
Festivities really get underway Saturday as the village comes alive with all festival events opening at 10 a.m. The Jefferson Street food court opens at 10 a.m. for the early risers. On Washington Street, visitors can browse artists' work, take a look at some crafts and look through T-shirts. All items will be available for sale as well. The Visitor Center and Monroe Street will be alive with a curb sale. At 11 a.m., Washington Square will come alive with children's rides.
On the hill at Holiday Valley, from 9 a.m. until noon, at Creekside, Ski Swap check in continues. The aerial park at Sky High will also open at that time for those looking for a bit of early autumn adventure. From 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., the Junior Ski Team and snowboard swap will take place at Creekside Lodge. While that is happening, the Mountain Shop/High Performance swap will take place at the Resort Services Plaza Deck.
After an 8 a.m. registration, a 5k race will is expected to begin at 10 a.m. from the Main Lodge. At noon, lift rides on the Mardi Gras Xpress, with a $2 charge, will take riders to a mountaintop cookout until 4 p.m. During that period, The Tommy Z Band will be performing at the top of Mardi Gras. Down below, at 3:30, Strangers will be playing at the Cabana Bar until 7:30.
Balloons, again, will be alive on stage with music from noon until 11 p.m. To kick things off, Mo Porter will play from noon until 2 p.m., with Black Widow taking over at 2:30 p.m. After the stage change, Steel Keys and Brass take over at 5:30 and Funktional Flow finish off the evening, playing from 8:30-11 p.m.
Sunday in the village is the same as Saturday, with the exception of the third annual Ellicottville Star competition, sponsored by Ed Shults Auto Group. The competition will take place at the Village Gazebo. The competition, patterned off the hit television show of a similar name, will go from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Over at Holiday Valley, the day looks about the same with the replacement of a mountain bike race starting from the Mountain Sports Center at 10 a.m. The lift will take visitors to the top of Mardi Gras once again, but this time, 10 Delaware will be performing on top of the mountain and "Bleeding Hearts will be at the Cabana Bar. From 4 p.m. until 8, The Strangers will be on the stage at Balloons.
On Monday, events will start to wind down as businesses start to hit the gears to switch to full winter season as preparations hit full swing. There will be chair lift rides for $5 on the Spruce Lake lift.
During the entire weekend a $3 shuttle service will take people from the village to the Inn at Holiday Valley and Resort Services. The shuttle will run from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Friday and from 10 a.m. to 3 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. A taxi service is also available at 375-TAXI.