Hot Bikes, Cold Beer & Live Music


   Hollywood Happening has become a staple summer event in Gowanda, NY, growing from its origins as a one-day event in 1999 to the crowd-drawing, weekend-long experience it is today. This year’s line-up promises plenty of entertainment for all ages.
   The 15th annual event will run Friday through Sunday, May 31-June 2 and will be supporting the ongoing efforts to restore the historic Hollywood Theater, located on Main Street in Gowanda. Camping will once again be offered with primitive and RV camping areas available, making it easy to enjoy the action all three days.
   In addition to the platform of entertainment, live music, and contests, there is also an abundance of shopping, food vendors and displays.
   This year’s Happening will feature daily doses of three spotlight events at intervals throughout Saturday and Sunday.  The “In Jest” show with Nels Ross promises sidesplitting comedy, stunts, and juggling acts. Ross has performed locally at places such as the Fredonia Opera House, Chautauqua Institution, and the Collins Public Library. Fox TV says he “thrills any audience!”
   The motorcycle stunt show “Starboyz” takes bike riding to the extreme. The team from Akron, Ohio performs gravity defying stunts and pioneered stunt riding in America. Look for them on South Water Street again this year.
   Michael Blaine and his nationally known hypnotist act will be featured inside the historic Hollywood Theater. Be amazed as people fall under his control and do the funniest things! They might act like Elvis, the Rockettes or even Miss America, all while under Michael’s control.
   Friday night will welcome Maria Aurigema and her Blues music on the main stage. Maria grew up in North Tonawanda and is just as renown for belting the blues as she is for her warm personality off the stage.
   Saturday leads off with local rockers Four Barrel on the main stage mid-afternoon, followed by Ozone Rangers, who describe their music as “bluesy bass and drum rhythms sprinkled with some tasty Southern licks.” Started in Buffalo in 1979, the Ozone Rangers have been rocking together for over twenty years.
   Saturday evening’s entertainment will showcase headliner, Green River, playing a tribute to CCR/John Fogerty.  Green River formed back in 2009 and their performance is a faithful tribute to the Credence Clearwater Revival performances, followed by a quick break to transition to John Fogerty solo songs.
   Barley Tones will bring Saturday night to a close with their “semi acoustic and totally electric” tunes at the American Legion.
   Sunday’s performances open up with Busted Stuff, who was named 2012 Duo of the Year. They creatively use electronics to produce more sound than seems possible with just two performers.
   The weekend’s musical festivities end with Ninety West, a country group that has won several Buffalo music awards including 2011 Best Country Band and Best Country Female Vocal.
   The annual bike parade will kick off the festivities on Friday evening. Line-up begins around 6:30pm at Gowanda Harley Davidson and leaves at 7pm, winding its way to downtown Gowanda in time for the opening ceremonies to start the Happening.
   Enter the Wicked Glen Tattoo Contest for a chance to win prizes! Registration is all day Friday and until 2:30pm on Saturday, with winners announced at 3pm Saturday on the big stage. Cost is $10 per category or $50 for all, with many different categories to choose from.
   Cash prizes are up for grabs in the Ride-in Bike Show on Saturday, June 2. It will take place on Center Street with many classes for all types of bikes and paintwork. Registration runs from 10am-noon on Saturday, with voting from noon-4pm. Come show off your bike or vote for your favorite!
   There will also be a Charity Run hosted by the Gowanda AMVETS Riders for the third year. The run will cover 65 miles of scenic Western New York with plenty of stops and food. Registration will take place at the Gowanda American Legion from 10-11:30am.  The cost is $15 a bike or $20 a passenger.
   The Hollywood Theater was built in 1926 after a fire destroyed the original opera house in downtown Gowanda. It sadly closed to the public in 1992, however, in the mid-1990s a small group began to lobby for its restoration. The Gernatt Family of Companies purchased the theater and donated it to the town, and shortly thereafter, a handful of volunteers began the restoration process.
   In 2007 the Harley Happening became the Hollywood Happening, and the tie between the theater and the event was forged. Many of the events and contests that take place throughout the weekend raise funds to be donated to the restoration effort. Aaron Markham, one of the members of the board put in place to lead the restoration, says, “We are looking forward to another good year with good weather to help us raise money for this historical landmark in Gowanda.”
   More than just a fun weekend, this event is making a difference in a community for years to come.
   This is truly a community event, and without generous sponsors and active community members, the event wouldn’t take place. As one longtime Gowanda resident said, “The Hollywood Happening puts Gowanda on the map. People from all over know about Gowanda because of this event.”
   Show your support for your community by coming out and taking part in this fun and important fundraising event and making history come alive once again through the restoration of the Hollywood Theater.  Log onto for additional info on The Happening, a complete schedule of events, and to learn more about the history of the Gowanda Hollywood Theater.
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