A Celebration of Season and Heritage

Hot Dog eating contest?

The 35th annual Falling Leaves Festival opens on Saturday, Sept. 29 at 11am. For a c omplete listing of events throughout the weekend, visit www.SalamancaChamber.org. Photo courtesy Seneca Salamanca Chamber of Commerce

Falling Leaves Festival Hits Salamanca, NY Sept. 29-30, 2012 … Something for Everyone!

As the hills change from fresh greens to earthy, rich red and gold, a community gathers to celebrate its culture and to pass on its heritage to younger generations at the 35th Annual Falling Leaves Festival in Salamanca, NY.

“This is one of our longest running festivals period,” said Jenny Ingrao, Member Services and Events Manager for the Seneca Salamanca Chamber of Commerce. “It features arts and crafts vendors, food vendors, and bands throughout the weekend. It’s an event the entire community gets behind.”

Celebratin Culture & Heritage

According to Ingrao, the Chamber recently added a theme to the festival to recognize the strong art presence in the community.

“Our theme is ‘Celebrating Culture and Heritage’,” she said. “The Native Roots Artists Guild (NRAG) brings the rich culture for which Native American Artists are known at the festival.”

“Seneca artists belong to the guild, and we’ve been showcasing what our artists do,” Ingrao added. “Visitors can view stunning interpretations of ancient potters, hand carvings, paintings, beadwork designs or the symbolism captured from traditional Native American stories and legends.”

Carson Waterman is an artist who regularly attends the festival and said the event is critical in preserving the area’s traditions.

“It’s a good idea and important for us to work at trying to preserve and survive into the future because our culture is very unique and we’re a small nation of 8,000 people,” Waterman said, noting the need to involve youth in the celebration. “I always feel our culture is the most important purpose to exist and do artwork about. I’m hoping that when we show our works, that other young people come, see what we do, and become interested, and recognize the value of what we’re trying to do.”

Something for Everyone

Whether you’re young or old, there’s something for everyone at the Falling Leaves Festival.

“At this one, the food, artists and crafts are the draw,” Ingrao said. “We also have contests, so that’s unique for our festival.”

Guests attending the event can compete in a number of challenges, including a hot dog eating contest, donut eating contest, and a hula hoop contest.

“It’s a fun thing we get to do,” Ingrao said.

Additional features of the festival include a 5K run/walk sponsored by ACHIEVE; a farmers market; a petting zoo and bird display; and amusement rides.

“There’s also a classic car show on Saturday,” Ingrao noted. “It starts on Main Street by the Street Dreams Car Club of Bradford around 9am and ends around 3 or 4pm. We are growing it to be a main event at the festival.”

Grande Parade

On Sunday, as the event draws to a close, the community joins one last time to enjoy the annual parade.

“The parade is another big feature of the festival,” Ingrao said. “It kicks off at 1pm and runs from Main to Broad Street. There are usually about 60 or more floats.”

“My favorite part of the weekend is the parade,” Ingrao added. “It’s a wrapping up of the season, and it takes us from fall to winter. It’s really neat to see.”

The 35th Annual Falling Leaves Festival opens on Saturday, September 29 at 11am. For a complete listing of events visit the Seneca Salamanca Chamber of Commerce’s website at www.SalamancaChamber.org.

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