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Business Improvement District

No second annual Italian Fest, as organizers 'focus on other events'

By Joanne Beck
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2022 file photo of Batavia's Italian Festival. Photo by Howard Owens.
2022 file photo of Batavia's Italian Festival.
Photo by Howard Owens.

While trying to obtain a schedule of events for the second annual Italian Festival, scheduled for July 29 and promoted this year along with a classic car cruise, The Batavian has learned that the event has been canceled.

“The BID has decided not to move forward with Italian Fest this year,” the group’s executive director, Shannon Maute, said Monday. “Although we loved the event, we have decided to focus on our other events.”

During BID’s — which stands for Business Improvement District — annual awards get-together in April, Maute shared that upcoming events, including the Italian Fest, would be “bigger and better than ever.” It was quietly canceled, per the online note and line drawn through the event name on its own page. 

On Monday, Maute emphasized that BID is still forging ahead with its boxcar derby, set for 8:30 a.m. Aug. 26 just outside of downtown on Ellicott Avenue, and the annual Wine Walk has been penciled in already for 4 to 8 p.m. Oct. 7 in downtown Batavia, with this year’s theme being “Under the Big Top.”

Photos: BID's Thursday Nights in Jackson Square opens with Vette

By Howard B. Owens
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Kole Moore, the band Vette.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Vette opened the Thursday Night concert series in Jackson Square yesterday.

The band consists of Kole Moore, lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Alex Fitzak, lead guitar, and on Thursday, the substitute rhythm section was Mike "Thunder" Warren on bass and Alex DeSmit on drums.

The next show is the band Free Beer on Thursday, followed by Qwister on Aug. 10 and Radio Relapse on Aug. 17.

The concerts are hosted by the Business Improvement District.

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Vette on stage at Jackson Square.
Photo by Howard Owens.
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Alex DeSmit
Photo by Howard Owens.
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Mike "Thunder" Warren on bass.
Photo by Howard Owens.
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Alex Fitzak on lead guitar.
Photo by Howard Owens

Photos: Jackson Square concert series opens with Skycats

By Howard B. Owens
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The Friday evening concert series in Jackson Square, sponsored by the Business Improvement District, kicked off the 2023 season with the Skycats.

Photos by Howard Owens.

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Photos: Downtown Batavia's inaugural Cider Walk

By Howard B. Owens
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The Business Improvement District hosted its inaugural Cider Walk, modeled after the popular Wine Walk in the Fall, in Downtown Batavia on Friday.

Photos by Nick Serrata.

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New car kits unveiled for return of BID's Soapbox Derby

By Howard B. Owens
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Three of the Soapbox Derby organizers -- Jim Krencik, Shannon Maute, and Chris Suozzi -- with examples of the new soapbox cars that racers will put together and decorate for the 2023 race.

The Soapbox Derby, sponsored by the Business Improvement District, returns for 2023 with sleeker, larger, faster car kits, organizers announced today.

The race will be at the same locations as last year -- Ellicott Street at Richmond, next to Centennial Park in Batavia -- on August 26.

Last year -- the first time a Soapbox Derby was held in Batavia in decades -- races were beset by wheels falling off and other mechanical issues.

In an effort to solve the wheel problem, organizers sought alternatives and met Mark Scuderi, president of the Greater Rochester Soap Box Derby.  Scuderi has a warehouse of soapbox cars that are of the style and engineering of cars used throughout the state. 

The cars are valued at $1,000 each but the BID will lease them for $100 each and they will arrive unassembled so children competitors and their families can still engage in putting the cars together.

"We did not want the cookie-cutter car that everyone just jumps in and races because this isn't about a race," said Shannon Maute, director of the BID. "It's not just about a race. It's about teaching skills. It's about bringing out the creative side and letting them have fun with their friends and their family. The kids can still be creative and still use tools and learn how to do brakes and tires and use power tools. Mark came up with a great solution. He gave us the shell of the car, so the kids will be able to decorate it however they want."

Unlike last year, there will be limits on how much customization competitors can do on the cars because the shells can't be modified.

But out of the gate -- the new electronic starting gate -- competitors will get faster cars, with brakes, and the track will go past Park Avenue with hay bales on Ellicott Avenue set up at Washington Avenue.

Chris Suozzi, VP of business development for GCEDC, said the derby will still meet the workforce development goals of exposing children to the challenge of building something. The racers get to use power tools, some for the first time, and make sure all of the pieces are installed properly.

The size of the field doubles this year, to 48 racers, with two age groups in competition -- 7 to 10 and 11 to 13.

The winners get their names inscribed on the Joseph Suozzi Memorial Plaque.

There are two opportunities to register. The first on Friday, June 2, during the Genesee County Youth Bureau Family Game Night at the David M. McCarthy Memorial Ice Arena, from 5 to 7 p.m.  The second registration opportunity is the next day from 10 a.m. to noon at Adam Miller Toys and Bicycles.

There is a $20 registration fee and sponsors are covering the lease cost of the cars. Sponsors include Alex's Place as lead sponsor, along with Graham Manufacturing, Western New York Concrete, and Sheet Metal Workers Local 46, along with any other sponsors that sign on to support the event.

"The BID Box Car Derby is one of my favorite events because it's for the kids," Maute said. "Seeing the smiles on their faces as they race down the street reminds me of the happiest moments of my childhood. It’s something that all of our business owners have, a memory that inspired them. So many people came out to join us last year and already want to help out this year. I think this is what we’re creating with this event, a community."

Also serving on the organizing committee are Lauren Becht, Lydia Schauf, Marian Pautler, Matt Gray, Jim Krencik, Gail Tenney, Sara Tenney, Jay Gsell, and John Roche.

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Downtown business members give nod to last year as they strive for 'bigger and better' in 2023

By Joanne Beck

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During the downtown annual beer walk, an out-of-town participant won a gift card, which not only brought her back, but she had her whole family in tow. They shopped at Empire Hemp and booked a massage at The Spa at Artemis, promising to return for dinner and stop into Valle Jewelers to browse and hopefully purchase some of the shop’s dazzling items on display.

That is perhaps the epitome of what a Business Improvement District event is all about, and Executive Director Shanon Maute shared that visitor’s excitement of winning and exploring downtown Batavia during BID’s annual awards get-together Thursday evening.

“The events, and what they mean to our community — where do I start? Let’s start with the Wine Walk, Beer Walk and the newly added Cider Walk. These events may not seem that impactful, but on a typical walk, they get over 600 people downtown and into our businesses,” Maute said at Center Street Smokehouse. “We are not only getting locals, but we are seeing more and more people from out of town. The reactions we get from them are great. They tell us how much they love our downtown and had no idea that some of these businesses were here — sad but true. We do see a lot of repeat business from these walks.”

That one winning participant and her family, on their return trip, had lunch at one restaurant and dessert at another before shopping and getting a pampering treatment at Artemis, Maute said. They took advantage of much that downtown retailers and eateries had to offer, with no time left to even complete their to-do list during one visit.

“I call that a success!” Maute added.

That might make one wonder if locals look at downtown with similar fresh-eyed excitement of a visitor or take for granted those shopping and eating opportunities. Maute doesn't, and hopes to increase the attention drawn to inner-city offerings.

“I have not lost my excitement for our downtown and look forward to our upcoming events. The Board of Directors, the committees, and our volunteers have been amazing and have really supported my ideas, and I greatly appreciate each and every one of them,” Maute said. “The committee members have become my extended family, and I could not have done these events without them, so thank you.”

She announced the newly added event this year that will be coming up in about six weeks: the inaugural Cider Walk on June 17. Italian Fest and the Boxcar Derby are being tweaked to be "bigger and better than ever," doubling in size, she said.

Other events include:

  • Friday night Jackson Square concerts resume on July 7
  • Thursday concerts on July 13 and 20, August 10 and 17
  • Italian Festival and a Classic Car Show is set for July 29
  • BID Boxcar Derby on August 26
  • Scarecrow Contest in September
  • Wine Walk on October 7
  • Shop Local in November
  • Christmas in the City December 2
  • Febrewary Beer Walk has been slated for February 24

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Maute then presented awards to the Volunteer of the Year, Lauren Becht, for being “one of the nicest, most positive people I have met” and for serving on every committee, always being available and willing to help out — whether it’s racing Maute down a hill in a Big Wheel to test the hill before the Box Car Derby or stuff her car full of pumpkins for the Paint Your Pumpkins Pink breast cancer campaign — Becht was there.

“And she does it all with a smile,” Maute said. “I know I can always count on her for anything.”

Next up was Business of the Year, and that went to Judy Hysek for her vegan restaurant that began as an incubator trial inside of Eli Fish Brewery on Main Street. The concept and place — Eden Cafe and Bake Shop — grew and became popular enough to move out on its own, which it did nearly a year ago.

The site has its own brick-and-mortar location at 242 Ellicott St., and Maute is “very happy to say this was a success story” that she could announce.

“The award for Business of the Year is actually a business that I am very proud of and have personally been there since the beginning and watched them grow,” Maute said. “I highly recommend stopping in. Tell them Shannon sent you; it won’t get you anything. I just think it would be funny.”

BID's goals include continuing to cross-promote each other’s businesses; create relationships amongst all BID businesses; increase their online presence; target events toward the “next generation to bring vitality back to downtown.”

The BID is made up of board officers Derek Geib as president, John Roche, vice president, Glenn Liucci, treasurer, Kourtney Kunichika, secretary; and members Rachael Tabelski, city manager, Peter Casey, Ken Mistler, Patti Pacino, Marty Macdonald, Carrie Lawrence, Shelly Wolanske, Peter Hunt, Lauren Becht, Patrick Burk, Cregg Paul and Sara Tenney.

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Top Photo of people mingling during the annual BID awards get-together Thursday at Center Street Smoke House in Batavia, by Howard Owens; Volunteer of the Year Lauren Becht and BID Executive Director Shannon Maute, and Business of the Year Eden Cafe and Bake Shop, left, Thomas Shaw, line cook, Shannon Maute, owner Judy Hysek, and chef manager Nicole DellaPenna; and the unofficial Best Dressed Award went to My Cut Barbershop, presented to owner Zach Watts. seen also with Victor Thomas, Connor Hyde-Hamilton and Ray Williams; and no ID available for the speaker, all courtesy of BID. Live musical duo entertains during the evening, by Howard Owens. 

City to sell two mall parcels to downtown entrepreneur

By Joanne Beck

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Derek Geib, entrepreneur, property owner and president of the Business Improvement District, has been a tight-lipped businessman.

He didn’t have much to say when voted in as president of the BID while operating successful enterprises with Bourbon & Burger, The Coffee Press and Roman’s, all in downtown Batavia.

Now it appears as though Geib has more ventures on his to-do list, with a proposal to buy parcels 11A and 11B in the City Centre from the city of Batavia.

When reached Monday, Geib would not go on record with any comments about the purchase or his plans for the mall property. He wouldn’t even give a hint about what type of business might be going into the space formerly occupied by Valle Jewelers several years ago.

City management had previously requested permission from City Council for a reassessment of vacant properties, and 11A and B were evaluated to be worth $60,000 as fair market value by Lynne, Murphy & Associates, Inc.

Geib, operating under Geib Estates Corp., agreed to pay the price tag, plus additional expenses. Assistant City Manager Erik Fix recommended that the city “continue to foster development and activity in the Batavia City Centre, a unique downtown asset, and authorize this sale.”

“The property will go onto the tax rolls, and all the appraisal fees and closing costs will be paid by Geib Estates Corp.,” Fix said during City Council’s conference session Monday evening.

The purchase would align with the city’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative, Brownfield Opportunity Area and Strategic plans, Fix said in his memo to City Manager Rachael Tabelski.

Councilman Bob Bialkowski asked about the property’s assessed value and when the sale would actually take place. City Attorney George Van Nest said that a survey and title search will have to be completed first, which “can take a little bit of time.”

“But once that is done, we’ll make arrangements to have a closing and transfer the title,” he said.

Tabelski estimated that it would probably be in the summer, possibly in July. No one had an answer about the assessed value. According to online assessment records, the 2022 full market value is $124,000. For years, it has been sitting unoccupied. 

“Yes, put it back to work, I’m in favor of this,” Bialkowski said.

A resolution will be on the next business meeting agenda for council’s vote.

Photo of former Valle Jewelers property in Batavia City Centre from online assessment website. 

FeBREWary 2023 draws hundreds downtown

By Joanne Beck

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Hundreds of thirsty visitors walked the streets of downtown Batavia this weekend in search of some tasty ale.

As it turned out, they found plenty of it -- 21 stops, in fact, of craft brews, ciders, and meads at various merchants throughout the Business Improvement District. It was the annual FeBREWary beer walk hosted by the BID.

Beverages, snacks, raffles, and prizes aside, the bustling sidewalks were a welcomed attraction, BID Executive Director Shannon Maute said. Overall, the event went "extremely well," she said.

"We had just about 600 attendees. It was nice to see people walking our main streets and filling our downtown businesses," she said. "Everyone seemed to be having a great time."

To view or purchase photos, click here.

Photos by Steve Ognibene

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Craft brews, ciders and meads to warm up winter during Febrewary

By Joanne Beck

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As the Western New York weather rollercoaster continues its ride — with predictions of another blizzard looming for next weekend — it would be nice to have something to look forward to.

And downtown Batavia’s Business Improvement District has the answer, Executive Director Shannon Maute says.

Febrewary.

“It’s a chill event,” Maute said Tuesday, no pun intended. “People are out and enjoying themselves … there’s something for everybody.”

The event, set for 5 to 8 p.m. Feb. 25, was just picking up steam for a few years when COVID hit and it was derailed in 2021, resuming the crafty beer fun walk last year.

A close replica to the BID’s popular fall wine walk, Febrewary features tastings — 21 stops are planned this year — at various downtown merchants, many of which will have specials, drawings, and giveaways, Maute said.

She is still lining up the lead performers, but 810 Meadworks of Medina, Windy Brew from Sheldon and OSB Ciderworks from Buffalo have been confirmed. Not familiar with a mead? This libation is made with honey, and dates back to Biblical times as “probably the first fermented beverage,” the company’s website states.

“More versatile than liquor, wine, or beer, mead can taste like a refreshing summer shandy, a hoppy IPA, a full-bodied Cabernet, or a fine dessert wine,” it states.

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Windy Brew is a Wyoming County-based brewery of craft beers, and OSB’s lineup of ciders will be featuring anything from the crispy bite of homegrown concord grapes from along the Finger Lakes, and Intergalactic Raspberry combined with hibiscus flower, to the Scotch Bonnet Bomber, described as “apple forward with a throat chop of spicy.”

Of course, brewmasters such as Eli Fish of Batavia are also expected to participate, as Maute is seeking out a sour, Belgian witbier, stout, lager and other varieties of craft brew.

Maute was interim director of BID when this February event came up as her first official one, and it has been a favorite ever since, she said.

“It’s an event I like, people are just having fun,” Maute said.

General admission tickets are $30 and include a collectible snifter glass, snacks along the way, raffles and giveaways and tastings. VIP tickets are $40 and include all of the regular features plus an extra hour, from 4 to 8 p.m., an exclusive tasting and a food station.

Designated drivers will be able to partake of the specials, raffles, snacks and non-alcoholic tastings for $10.

“A lot of people were happy with the way it was at the wine walk (for DD’s),” Maute said. “They will be able to do everything, except for the tastings.”

There will be a total of 600 tickets, and 25 for designated drivers. They may be purchased at Event Brite, and there will be a limited number of paper tickets available at Adam Miller Toy & Bicycle shop on Center Street and Yngodess on Main Street, Batavia. For more information, go to BID Febrewary

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Top two photos of 2022's event by Howard Owens. Photo above submitted by Shannon Maute.

Photos: Christmas in the City Parade

By Howard B. Owens

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Downtown merchants, through the Business Improvement District, hosted their annual Christmas in the City Parade on Saturday evening.

Photos by Philip Casper.

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Snow or not, Christmas is coming in many forms first week of December in Batavia

By Joanne Beck

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Halloween is quickly approaching, then it’s Thanksgiving, and before you know it, the annual Christmas in the City takes hold the first weekend in December.

As members of Batavia Business Improvement District and Batavia Players — led by Co-Chairpersons Pat Burk and Shannon Maute — strive to get things in place for the event, there are plenty of opportunities for others to participate, they say.

Christmas in the City
The main event runs from 1 to 6 p.m. on Dec. 3 Downtown, with a visit from Santa Claus from 1 to 5 p.m. inside the mall and a finale parade at 6 p.m. throughout downtown. Local groups, businesses, emergency services departments, kids, adults, and most anything in between are welcome to join the fun.

Maute has put out the call for not only organizations but also for departments with fire trucks, to sign up.

“You can walk, ride or enter a float,” a BID flyer states.

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Mall events will run from 1 to 5 p.m. and include Santa’s Village, pictures with Santa, hot cocoa and cookies, crafts, cookie decorating, a kids’ zone, Santa’s workshop, shopping specials, Dickens Carolers, Scrooge, adult tastings and more, organizers said.

Our Hometown Christmas
Even earlier that day will be a craft and vendor fair that begins at 10 a.m. and runs to 8 p.m., Burk said.

“We already have 22 tables,” he said. “And there will be entertainment; our dance academy is performing, the small brass group from BHS signed up, and there’s Santa’s Village. We’re trying to get people in what used to be the mall, and our Christmas show will be happening Dec. 1, 2, 3 and 4.”

Burk, long-time executive director of Batavia Players, is learning how to juggle theater responsibilities with Board of Elections tasks and being president of the Genesee Valley School Boards Association, he said.

The theater in Batavia City Centre has been one of many projects delayed by the pandemic’s onslaught of labor, supply chain and social distancing issues.

With fingers crossed, Burk is hoping for a completed theater to open in May or June of 2023. There are grants involved, and though the Players are a pre-qualified status through Grants Gateway, there is more footwork to be done, and it is all falling at the same time as taxes being due Nov. 15, he said.

Despite the “bad timing,” he and group staff and members look forward to that day when a performance happens in the fully renovated theater.

“We had some pretty hefty demolition left to do with plumbing, electrical, all those old air conditioning units that were there for the X-ray machines and stuff. Yeah, huge. They're all gone. I mean, we're moving daily. And we're working hard,” he said. “So I don't know what time we're going to be completed. And a lot of it's depending on availability of our stuff, and when we get our reimbursements from the state.”

Grant funding is crucial, due to how — sounds like a broken record by now, he said — COVID affected pricing for everything.

“Our supplies went up by over $260,000. We’re in for $1.2 million already and have raised money. And all that money doesn't mean anything, because we have to come up with more money for it, just to complete everything," he said. "On top of that, we really want to do a good job of accessibility and maximizing use and having good lights and sound and all that other stuff. And all that stuff went up in money … it all went through the ceiling."

They should get word on the grant application in March or April next year, he said, and he has learned how meticulous all of that paperwork needs to be, especially given at least three grant-related changes taking place this year. If one number is off, it gets sent back, and then they wait another month or more for approval of a resubmission of the corrected material.

“You have to have people look over this stuff, over and over and over,” he said.

A Christmas Carole
Nonetheless, the show, as they say, must go on, and the Players will be presenting the seasonal Dickens’ favorite “A Christmas Carole” the weekend of Christmas in the City.  It is set for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1, 2, 3 and 2 p.m. Dec. 4 at Main St. 56 Theater in Batavia City Centre. Tickets are $16 for adults and $14 students and seniors, and available at showtix4u.com.

The Players will also be sponsoring Our Hometown Christmas all day on Dec. 3 with an array of gift options at craft and vendor tables. There is still space available, and any interested crafts dealers, food trucks, vendors or antique dealers may want to grab a table NOW

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Santa’s Village will be part of a festive display, and local schools are to be participating, Burk said. There are so many activities jam-packed into the schedule, that Burk would like to see a future two-day event, he said.

The Hometown event is a fundraiser for the Players, and will provide entertainment and fun for visitors, he said.

“We’re trying to keep the theater going with no theater and with no money,” Burk said. “We are literally scraping together money to pay to keep the lights on.”

Wreath Contest
The BID is also hosting its annual Wreath Contest for downtown Batavia “as a creative way to add some holiday spirit to downtown.” The contest is open to any business, group, organization, or family. For $20, each participant is provided with a 16-inch plain wreath to decorate. Participants may pick up their wreaths on Nov. 19 and have a week to decorate before dropping them back off to the BID for committee volunteers to place throughout downtown, Maute said in a recent press release.

Voting for the most creative will take place from Dec. 3 through 24. The first-place winner is to receive a $100 cash prize, second place $75 and third place $50.

To participate in the wreath contest or parade, contact Maute 

File photos of Christmas in the City 2021 by Howard Owens

BID announces Christmas in the City for 2022

By Press Release

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Press release:

The Downtown Batavia Business Improvement District is hosting its annual Christmas in the City Event with Holiday Parade on Saturday, Dec. 3 from 2 to 6 p.m., with a parade down Main Street at 6 p.m.

The BID is seeking any business, organization, or group to walk, ride or enter a float for the parade which runs from Jefferson Ave to Summit Street. 

Downtown Businesses are encouraged to host an activity or offer store specials during the event. Vendors are welcome.

This year’s event includes Santa’s Village, pictures with Santa, hot cocoa & cookies, crafts, cookie decorating, kid’s zone, Santa’s workshop, shopping specials, Dickens Carolers, Scrooge, adult tastings and more.

BID Mall Events will be from 1 to 5 p.m.

“Our Hometown Christmas” craft fair sponsored by Main St. 56 Theater will be held in the mall 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

We have something for everyone, this is an event you won’t want to miss.

The Batavia Business Improvement District is also hosting its annual Wreath Contest for Downtown Batavia.

As a creative way to add some holiday spirit to downtown, the BID invites any business, group, organization, or family to enter the contest.

For $20 each participant is provided with a 16” Plain Wreath to decorate.

Participants will pick up their wreaths on Saturday, Nov. 19 and have a week to decorate before dropping them back off to the BID for committee volunteers to place throughout Downtown.

Voting for the most creative will take place from Dec. 3 thru Dec. 24. The first-place winner receives a $100 cash prize, second place $75 and third place $50.

To participate in Christmas in the City or the Wreath Contest contact Shannon Maute at [email protected]  

Photo: File photo by Howard Owens.

Photos: Dead Celebrities populate Downtown Batavia for Wine Walk 2022

By Howard B. Owens

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Once again, the annual Wine Walk in Downtown Batavia, sponsored by the Business Improvement District, was a sellout.

This year the theme was "dead celebrities."

Which dead celebrities can you spot in the photos?

For more photos and to purchase prints, click here.

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Wine, scarecrows and pink pumpkins to set the scene downtown Oct. 1

By Joanne Beck

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Shannon Maute is not a middle-of-the-road kind of person.

To the contrary, she readily admits that her thought process is all or nothing.

What’s this got to do with the upcoming Business Improvement District’s annual Wine Walk? Everything. Maute, BID executive director,  had already scheduled a scarecrow contest to align with the wine walk for ample decorations along downtown streets. Then someone asked Maute about pink pumpkins. Would it be possible to also dot the landscape with pink pumpkins for Breast Cancer Awareness Month?

“I’m usually like, go big or go home. I'm either doing nothing, or I'm doing way too much at once. So I decided that fall is pretty fantastic, so we needed to do a lot of stuff in the fall,’ she said Wednesday. “We were planning our scarecrows, and I had a neighbor of mine reach out to me, and she asked if she could do a pumpkin that had to do with breast cancer. And I said, of course, and she said, do you think that maybe downtown wanted to participate and do something for it? And I said, if you do a scarecrow that has to do with breast cancer awareness, I will paint downtown pink with pumpkins.”

And so you now have wine, scarecrows and pink pumpkin activities downtown, with the grand kick-off being the walk from 4 to 8 p.m. (VIPs) and 5 to 8 p.m. (general) Oct. 1.

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Much of the fun leading up the Dead Celebrity-themed wine tasting has already begun with the scarecrow contest. Entries are due Friday, and individuals, families, organizations and businesses may participate. Rumor has it that Jackson Primary School will be pitching a scarecrow, and Maute said it would be great to get other schools involved.

The entry fee is $20, and registration can be made online at downtownbataviany.com, emailed to [email protected], our mailed to the BID office at 200 East Main St., Suite 12, Batavia, NY, 14020. For more information, call (585) 344-0900.

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Participants can pick up scarecrow supplies from 9 a.m. to noon this Saturday in Jackson Square. Supplies include wooden posts, straw and twine for the beginnings of your scarecrow. They may be put up the week of Sept. 25, and no later than Oct 1. They can remain up until Nov. 4.

Cash prizes will be given to first, second and third-place winners. Your creations will be prominently displayed for shoppers, visitors, and especially by Wine Walk attendees on Oct. 1. The public will be asked to vote for the Best Scarecrow and Most Creative HERE.  

Participants are welcome to go all-out pink with Maute when she hosts paint night from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Lambert Park on Verona Avenue, Batavia. Mele Garlic Farms of Holley has generously donated 30 pumpkins to the cause, she said. Painting supplies will be provided, however, nothing, especially more paint, will be turned away.

“This will be a fun event where people can get together, show their creativity and bring awareness to our amazing downtown,” Maute said. “Any donations of pink paints are welcomed and appreciated.”

Not only has the pink pumpkin task put another angle on decorations, but it has motivated Maute to learn more about the topic, she said.

“I just started reading a lot about that, and knowing how breast cancer and just cancer, in general, affects pretty much everybody, I thought that would be a great way to bring the community together and do something fun, and make downtown look fantastic,” she said. “By October 1, I will have them all decorated downtown. So when everyone comes out for the wine walk, or who's driving down Main Street, they'll see all the pink, and the awareness will be spread for breast cancer.”

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The finale, so to speak, is when several hundred dead celebrities gather to sample 24 wines and ciders at tasting stations throughout downtown. Glass Roots on Center Street will be hosting a Sober Station for designated drivers with pizza and other non-alcoholic refreshments.

This event is nearly sold out, but you can check with Maute to find out if any are available for purchase. For more information about any of these events, go to downtownbataviany.com, email [email protected], or call (585) 344-0900.

Top Photo: BID Executive Director Shannon Maute shows a pumpkin that she decorated for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Photo by Joanne Beck. File Photos of past scarecrow entries and the 2021 Wine Walk.

BID announces Wine Walk for 2022

By Press Release

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Press release:

The B.I.D. Wine Walk Committee announces this year’s event which will be held on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022.

Only 600 tickets are available for this year’s event.

Tickets may be purchased online, YN Godess, Adam Miller & Empire Hemp.

General Admission tickets are $30, VIP $40 and DD tickets for $10.

All VIP ticket holders get into the event one hour early at 4 p.m., a special gift, raffle tickets and more!

All ticket holders will enjoy a tasting of several Wines and Ciders at over 23 local businesses throughout our Downtown.

This year’s theme is Dead Celebrity!

Photo: File photo from 2014 by Howard Owens

This year's BID Wine Walk brings the 'dead' to life

By Press Release

Press Release

The BID Wine Walk Committee announces this year’s event which will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, October 1, 2022. Only 600 tickets are available for this year’s event. Tickets may be purchased online, or at YN Godess, Adam Miller and Empire Hemp.

General Admission tickets are $30, VIP $40 and DD tickets for $10. All VIP ticket holders get into event 1 hour
early at 4 PM, a special gift, raffle tickets and more! All ticket holders will enjoy a tasting of several Wines and Ciders at over 23 local businesses throughout our Downtown. This year’s theme is Dead Celebrity!

For more information contact the Batavia Business Improvement District at 585-344-0900 or Shannon Maute at [email protected].

Photo-finishes and racing excitement mark historic return of boxcar derby to Ellicott Avenue

By Howard B. Owens
Video Sponsor
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Brett Doward (top photo) and Levi Bennett (second photo) might want a rematch in next year's boxcar derby -- assuming there is one, and by all indications, there will be -- after facing off against each other in both each other's first heat of the day and in the finals for their age bracket.

That finals race had to be run twice after the first race wound up in a tie.  

In the first match of the Doward/Bennett rivalry, Doward won by a wheel.  In the first heat of the finals, the race ended in a tie.

In that second race for the Suozzi Memorial Trophy, Doward won handily. 

The day was also marked by an appearance by Roger Martin with a boxcar he built himself in the late 1930s and which took him to the national championships in 1940.  His son ran it once down the Ellicott Avenue hill, where Martin's car had seen past glory.

There were 28 competitors running against each other in pairs with double-elimination until the final rounds.

The derby was sponsored by the Business Improvement District and Glow With Your Hands.

Previously

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Dominic Darch and Brett Doward, winners of the 7-10 and 11-13-year-old brackets.

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The start of the first run of the finals race for the 11-13 bracket. Levi Bennet on the left, Brett Doward on the right.

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Bennett on the left and Doward on the right.

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Doward in the lead at the end of the first race.

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Lilly Gray glances back at Shannon Maute, BID director, as she beats her in an exhibition race at the end of the event.

See some 'little rascals' at BID's Family Movie Night

By Joanne Beck

Everyone is invited to a Family Movie Night in the Square tonight at 7 p.m., Shannon Maute says.

Maute, executive director of Batavia's Business Improvement District, encourages families to bring their lawn chairs, blankets, pillows, or "whatever makes you comfy," as you watch "The Little Rascals" at Jackson Square in downtown Batavia. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

There will be free popcorn, and the movie is in line with the BID's Boxcar Derby event happening at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Ellicott Avenue.

Mangia! was the theme of Italian Fest, with food, shopping, fun offerings

By Joanne Beck

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You could say that Don Antinore took his job seriously Saturday on School Street in Batavia.

He was one of three volunteer judges for the first-ever Italian Fest sauce contest. Antinore, Jay Steinbrenner and Paul Figlow carefully tasted, observed, and dripped each sauce off the spoon during their deliberations of the top three winners.

After they reviewed each type and style of sauce, the judges were ready with their selections. That is after they conferred with one another for several minutes. The Batavian remarked how soberly they were approaching the task.

Antinore, whose business card lists him as an American Academy of Chef's Culinary Hall of Famer, and an educator and coach for Hospitality Solutions, said they were giving the job due diligence for the eight contestants.

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“We're doing this because these people took the time to make these sauces,” he said.

The contestants were mostly made up of home chefs with family recipes. The contest was a first for Stephanee Surabian of Batavia. She didn’t exactly have a choice in entering, she said.

“My kids decided to push me toward it,” she said, watching her three pots of varied sauces. “They think mom’s is the best.”

She had a pesto alla trapanese, made with tomatoes and freshly ground almonds; fra diavolo, whose name translates to the devil’s mouth, and includes a spicy concoction with red pepper and red chili flakes; and a parma rosa, featuring a creamy base of tomatoes with melted cheese.

Lucie Griffis of Le Roy entered her Nanny’s Italian sauce, made with canned tomatoes, sausage, pork, homemade meatballs and fresh basil. The secret to a good sauce? “Not burning your garlic and onion at the start,” she said, “is key.”

To her left was Ken Kline from Oakfield. His recipe is cooked down from fresh roma tomatoes for three days on low heat, he said. He uses fresh parsley, oregano, basil, Italian sausage, homemade meatballs, stew beef and hard-boiled eggs.

“It’s thick and not runny,” he said. “You gotta love the sauce, you gotta love the family recipe.”

The recipe comes out during special occasions and, at times, just when the mood strikes him and his family, Kline said. Handed down from great-grandma from Palermo, Sicily, it’s a favorite that depends heavily on fresh roma tomatoes, he said.

Home chef, but with a background of working in the family restaurant in Denver, Colo., Sam Prinzi of Batavia believed in slow-cooking his ingredients, many of which are home-grown in his Batavia yard.

“Slow cooking, good seasoning and cooking it down,” are keys to a winning sauce, he said. He spent 90 minutes preparing everything, and then letting it cook on low for three to four hours.

He had a display of fresh ingredients on his table: green peppers, tomatoes and garlic, with some potential accompaniments of crunchy breadsticks, a small loaf of bread and pasta.

The recipe came from his grandparents in Sicily, both who have passed away, leaving their grandson to take up the spoon and continue on with the family tradition.

Prinzi liked the event, and plans to come back next year, he said.

“They’ve got great potential if they just keep adding to it,” he said. “I think this is great for the community.”

The contest was put on a brief hold as former county manager Jay Gsell was making his way downtown with his big pot of sauce from yet another family recipe.

His wife Ann Marie and her mother, Fannie Varone, are die-hard Italians with a recipe to be proud of, he said. So proud, in fact, that his mom-in-law threatened to put the “evil eye” on him if he didn’t learn the concoction before moving with his wife out of state.

“It’s a staple, in a big pot,” he said. “We have it for one or two meals, and then freeze the rest. We call it gravy, not sauce.”

After all of the tastings and whispering amongst the three judges, it was time for the big announcement. But first, Antinore offered some tips for authentic Italian sauce: oregano doesn’t belong in an Italian kitchen, he said, suggesting instead to use rosemary; don’t use too much spice as to take away from the overall taste; and consider how much oil you use, and its source (cooking meat in the sauce, for example); and herbs are not spices, he said.

Third place went to Griffis, second to Gsell and first prize of $100 and an engraved wooden spoon went to Prinzi.

Photos by Howard Owens

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Meanwhile, The Formula entertained with classic Italian songs to a mixed audience of standing and seated spectators, while others gravitated to the beer and wine tent or shopped vendors along Jackson Street.

The event was hosted by Batavia's Business Improvement District. BID Executive Director Shannon Maute said that, despite some competition from other events on the same day, "I felt it went pretty well." It drew more than 1,000 people, she said, and vendors "were happy and said they would love to come back next year."

Maute stressed the short lead time of having about four months to plan and pull this event together, when it typically takes a year to organize one. She was thankful to have the support that she had for the festival, she said.

"Events are a huge undertaking, and I am grateful for all the help and support from City Council, the city manager, my board, committee members and volunteers," she said. "I was very excited to bring this event to downtown. It was the first year, and we have some adjusting to do, and hope to grow it every year." 

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Top photo: Judges Don Antinore, left, Jay Steinbrenner and Paul Figlow make their way through eight sauces to find the top three winners at Saturday's Italian Fest in downtown Batavia; Sam Prinzi won first place and the commemorative wooden spoon; Jay Gsell, second place, congratulates third and first place winners, Lucie Griffis and Sam Prinzi; visitors to the event on School, Center and Jackson streets.

Build Day for boxcar derby brings, kids, families and volunteers downtown

By Joanne Beck

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There was one part about an upcoming boxcar race that especially appealed to Mason Dominiak, he said.

The 13-year-old likes speed.

“I like racing,” he said Saturday at Jackson Square in Batavia. “The adrenaline of going fast, I like going really fast.”

He and Adrian Tabelski were watching Adrian’s dad work to gradually put together a boxcar for them. The boys are participants of a first-ever Batavia Business Improvement District Boxcar Derby. Handmade creations will take off down the Ellicott Avenue hill at 9:30 a.m. sharp on Aug. 27.

Saturday was “Build Day,” and about 10 kids and their parents picked up their car kits and took them home to work on while the remaining 20 stopped by throughout the day to put their cars together with hands-on support from many BID committee members and community volunteers.

In between sounds of construction equipment, Adrian, 10, said that his participation was sort of a surprise.

“My mom signed me up,” he said.

Adrian in turn invited Mason to come along. They are sharing the initial duties of assembling and decorating a car, and both agreed that Adrian would be taking the wheel on race day. He has never been in a boxcar, but has “learned a lot about construction” during the day, he said.

Mason didn’t think he’d know as much as he did. Then again, he has worked on vehicles — four-wheeling is his favorite ride — and once had to take an entire engine out for a piston issue, he said. He will be there on race day to root on his friend. They began to brainstorm their car's exterior: how about black and gold with flames for a design, they agreed.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Mason said.

Committee member Lydia Schauf had telltale signs of sawdust on her black outfit. Using a saw, perhaps? No, drilling into wood.

“So we found out that they're doing the boxcar thing, and they were doing a build day. So we all came out and said that we’ll volunteer and help cut out templates, like my dad said, and just help build wherever we can with these kids,” she said. “It was fun to get out and try my hand at it.”

Lydia gave her dad, Rich Schauf, a nudge to join her in the effort. She also brought friend Marianne Pautler with her.

When asked if there had been any mishaps yet, Pautler smiled and nodded yes.

“I might have added a couple extra pieces here and there,” she said. “Those two extra pieces slid in. But hopefully it's been rectified. We went back through and pulled them out,” she said. “So yeah, just putting the kits together so that they're ready for the people to pick up or build here.”

Looking like he was ready to hunker down for some work, Rich Schauf, wearing a thick gray headband, happily obliged his daughter’s request, he said. He saw lots of enthusiasm during his time there.

“I thought it was a very worthwhile project,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of kids. And it's been really great to see these young kids and their excitement. I don't know if memory is still serving people about it, or if this will be new to people, but it's pretty exciting. And if you remember back in the day, it was quite good.”

There were stations with various tools and materials set up for the project, and several committee members and volunteers on hand to help. Participants each received a car kit, and BID merchants have been supportive of the idea, Executive Director Shannon Maute said. The race will be double elimination, which means several — about 50 — races on event day.

She and the others encourage spectators to join the fun and root for the kids. There will be tents set up and pizza and beverages for sale afterward as a “picnic in the park” BID style at Centennial Park, she said.

“We would like to make this a really large event. I mean, how fun cheering on these kids going down the hill, because what a feeling of a park filled with people cheering you on when you're going down this ramp,” she said. “I have challenged every child that I've come in contact with, because I built a car and I have challenged them to race me, so it's gonna be fun.”

She joked that she threw the gauntlet down to committee member Chris Suozzi, but believes that “he’s afraid to race me.”

The actual race is not in the downtown business district, she said, but merchants were OK with that. Ellicott Avenue has not only a nice hill that’s in the city but also was used years ago for similar races, she said.

“We had talked at length if anyone minded us doing (this) actually outside of the downtown area, but everyone was all for it because it's really more about the kids and not the district,” she said.

Other members Saturday included Jim Krencik, Lauren Becht, Gail Tenney, John Roche, and volunteers Don Cunningham, Jay Steinbrenner, Ron Galdun, Derek Ells, and TJ Henderson. Genesee Lumber cut and delivered the wood needed for the car kits.

The adults have taken care of all of the “logistics,” Krencik said, so that “the kids can focus on the hands-on skills that they’re learning by building the boxcars.”

“And then having a lot of fun racing them,” he said. “Our goal really was, for Build Day, to see the kids, their smiles as they’re walking away with these projects that they’re gonna dive into. And it’s going to be several hours of memories that I think are gonna really inspire them as they go through middle school, high school and, for my hat with GCEDC, to integrate into careers.”

As for the fun of it, someone suggested to him to think of the Little Rascals movie, in which the impish kids race boxcars. That sealed it for Krencik, he said, and that movie has fueled his zeal for the grand finale next month.

“It's really gonna be fun on August 27, to see these kids take off … it’s right at the corner of Centennial Park. But I liked that the race kind of goes towards the heart of the BID,” he said. “Because I think that's the energy that's right there. And it's getting more memories for those kids coming downtown like they are today.”

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Parents, committee members, volunteers, and kids got together to build some boxcars Saturday at Jackson Square. Photos by Jim Krencik.

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