If cabin fever is setting in and you’re looking to discover something new, then explore all there is to do in Cattaraugus County during the month of February! Every weekend, there’s an exciting event taking place that you won’t want to miss, so get your calendar ready and fuel up your vehicle - from Portville to Salamanca, there’s lots in store for you and your family.
STAMP ART CONTEST
Just a few miles south of Olean, the historic village of Portville will be hosting the Pfeiffer Nature Center’s upcoming program, “Art and Conservation” at the Portville Free Library on Saturday, Feb. 4 at 10:30am. Federal Duck Stamp artist Jennifer Miller will be sharing her experiences with the national contest and the relationship between her artistic talents and passion for the natural world.
Each year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service holds the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Art Contest; at least five different species of waterfowl are selected each year and one of these is required to be the dominant feature of the entry. In 2014, Miller, an Olean native, won first place with her acrylic painting of a pair of ruddy ducks, which became the Duck Stamp for 2015. Each year, the Federal Duck Stamp sells for $15 and raises about $25 million annually to support conservation efforts in the wetland habitats in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Miller is looking forward to sharing her artistic experience and how one’s passion can have a meaningful impact on the environment. This event is free for Pfeiffer Nature Center members, $5 for non-members, and free for children 13 and under (all minors must be accompanied by an adult). Pre-registration is required: visit www.pfeiffernaturecenter.org or call the office at 716-933-0187 by 4pm on Thursday, Feb. 2.
On Saturday, Feb. 11, Good Times of Olean is the place to be for anyone looking to enjoy one of Canada’s most beloved winter sports: curling! The 5th Annual Southern Tier Curling Tournament kicks off at 9am outside on the sand volleyball courts that have been converted into ice rinks for the big day. The annual tournament is the creation of tournament directors and cousins Corey Miller and Andy Studley, whose curiosity about the sport grew into one of the biggest curling events in the state. “Basically, it started as a conversation among friends - we all talked about how great it would be to try curling and to start a competition in the area,” Corey Miller explained.
Even though Miller, Studley, and their friends had no experience curling, they quickly learned the sport and shared their interest with others. Five years ago, the group hosted the first tournament in Miller’s parents’ backyard on their pond; seventeen teams of four players each competed. The following year, there was so much interest in the event that a larger location was needed, and Miller reached out to Good Times as the perfect venue, where the tournament has taken place every year since.
This year, the 64-team tournament filled up in an hour, and there are now 43 teams on the waiting list! According to Studley, gold, silver, and bronze medals are awarded to the top three teams, and other prizes have been donated for past winners including concert tickets, golf outings and more. There is also a cash prize awarded for the team with the best costumes! Although most team members are from the Olean area, Miller explained that there are some Olean natives who now live in Colorado and the Carolinas who return every year for the tournament, which is open to players ages 21 and older. Spectators are welcome and encouraged to attend this fun, free event, which will have live music throughout the day, raffles and food stations, plus outdoor firepits to keep warm.
In addition to being a fun winter competition, this tournament is a fundraiser for local organizations including the Portville Alumni Football Association. Miller and Studley are excited to see the tournament grow each year, and are even considering expanding the tournament into a weekend-long event so that more teams can participate. For more information, contact Miller (716-904-0750, firstname.lastname@example.org) or Studley (716-378-9293, email@example.com).
CROSS-COUNTRY SKI RACE
Looking to explore twenty miles of the best cross-country ski trails in the Northeast? Look no further - the Annual Art Roscoe Loppet Cross-Country Ski Race is taking place on Sunday, Feb. 12 at the Allegany State Park Summit Ski Area in the Red House area of the park. Skiers of all skill levels are invited to participate in an invigorating day on the Art Roscoe Trail System, where they can choose the distance that best suits their fitness and interest: the 22K race at 9:30am, the 13K race at 9:45am or the 6K race at 10am.
Registration begins on-site at 8am, although participants are encouraged to pre-register online at heartrateup.com. Awards will be given to the top 5 male and female skiers in each division, plus overall winners. New for 2017: all finishers will receive a finisher’s token. Participants have a chance to win an impressive range of prizes including skis, GPS watches, poles from Infinity and gear from Alpina Sports and The City Garage. The race concludes with a fun post-race party at the Summit warming hut, complete with toasty beverages, snacks, and door prizes. For more information, contact event promoter Mark Lawrence at 716-574-0888.
WINTER SUNSET TREKS
Those wanting to enjoy the beauty of Allegany State Park at a more leisurely pace can take part in the park’s Winter Sunset Treks which take place every Monday evening at 4:30pm through February. Each week, a park naturalist will lead snowshoe treks (weather permitting) or hikes along the summit ridgeline on Bear Paw Trail. Guests are in for a treat, as few sights are as beautiful as the Stone Tower at sunset. The trail, which is 2.3 miles long, is fairly easy to manage with only slight changes in elevation and ends in a post-trek social at the Summit Warming Hut. Guests are encouraged to dress warm and bring a flashlight and a snack for the journey. To learn more, contact the park’s Environmental Education/Recreation Department at 716-354-9101 ext. 236.
Stay up-to-date on the many events and activities taking place year ‘round in Cattaraugus County at www.EnchantedMountains.com and follow the Enchanted Mountains on Facebook.