Time for some music, pedestrian-friendly fare and a visit during Batavia Ramble
Chuck and Kathy Walters just happened to be driving down Main Street, Batavia Saturday when they noticed some commotion on Jackson Street.
The entrance was closed, but the rhythmic beat of drums and tents along the street enticed them to stop for a visit.
“We didn’t know this was happening,” Mrs. Walters said during the annual Batavia Ramble Explore Art and Music Fest. “We watched the African drummers and dancing … it’s the first time I’ve seen African music that’s not on TV.”
Womba, a group of authentic African performers, was a new element to the music festival. Organized by GO ART!, a series of culturally rich musicians and dancers, artists, crafters and puppeteers filled the street with activities throughout the day.
The Walters found a spot at a picnic table to nosh on grilled hotdogs from a nearby food stand. Troupe Nisaa members, dressed in sparkly, colorful outfits, performed a traditional bellydance at one end while a singer belted out tunes at the Jackson Street stage on the other end near Ellicott Street.
“They should have more of these,” Mrs. Walters said, adding that they would “definitely” come again next year.
The Bergen couple agreed that it was nice to visit Batavia, especially since “they’ve got so much more than Bergen.”
When asked if they would like to see anything else at the event, Mr. Walters suggested a large sign with a schedule for visitors to know what’s happening, when and where. They had never attended a Ramble and had not been to Jackson Square before.
Mrs. Walters likes country western music, she said, and would like to see that featured.
Overall, though, she was ready for more.
“I would like a two-day event,” she said.
As the Walters finished and walked away, Jay and Christine Elmore and a friend, all of Le Roy, sat down to enjoy some Red Osier fare. Mrs. Elmore’s sandwich was filled with prime rib, coleslaw and barbecue sauce, capped by a roll with salty crystals promising a sweet and savory bite.
“This is so good,” she said.
She and her friend had gone to a concert at Batavia Downs Friday, and decided to return Saturday to use their freeplay money. They then stopped downtown, first at O’Lacy’s and then the Ramble just around the corner.
Foot traffic had thinned out some, and most art vendors had left by that time in the early evening. Mrs. Elmore suggested that a corn hole tournament would be a fun addition to draw people and provide more interaction.
“My husband is a huge cornhole (fan), that would be a big draw,” she said. “It would bring a lot of out-of-towners.”
Her husband Jay agreed that he’s really into the game, but not exactly sure why. His wife suggested that it’s about the competition and camaraderie of people getting together.
It may be something for Ramble organizers, including lighting and sound man Stephen Kowalcyk to consider for next year. During a talk with The Batavian, he had mentioned wanting to expand the offerings at Jackson Square, including themed music nights.
“This is an awesome asset to this music scene. Typically, I would like to see some new stuff in here. I've talked to the owners in here (Eli Fish), we have some ideas of doing some DJ nights out there, or doing an 80s night, one night, maybe a hip hop night or something just to change things up,” he said. “And I think that benefits all the restaurants around here. So it'd be a fun thing to do.”
- Ramble mixes art, dance, music, food and people for winning recipe Saturday
- Photos: Batavia Ramble Art and Music Festival 2022
Top photo: Chuck and Kathy Walters of Bergen stop for a bite during Batavia Ramble Explore Art and Music Fest Saturday downtown. Photo by Joanne Beck.
Womba entertains spectators at the GO ART! tent, a crowd enjoying the art vendors, food, and cultural performances on Jackson Street Saturday. Photo by Howard Owens.