By Alicia Dziak

If you’re one of the thousands who celebrate Columbus Day weekend with a visit to Ellicottville for the annual Fall Festival, your wait is over. This weekend, Oct. 7-8, EVL’s biggest and oldest festival of the year is back, complete with music, races, rides, food, arts and crafts and endless fall fun.

Started in 1975 as a way to bring people into the budding ski town of Ellicottville as the winter merchandise arrived in stores, Fall Festival has evolved into one that brings in countless people for many different reasons, and this year’s festival promises to carry on the tradition of non-stop entertainment.

Head to Washington Square and let the kids get their thrills on the carnival rides from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. Grab a bite at the Jefferson Street food court, or stop in one of the local restaurants who will be serving up their signature dishes.

Get a jump on holiday shopping at the arts and crafts fair lining the Village streets. Find everything from unique gifts to food items and more at dozens of vendors offering their wares.

It won’t be long before the snow flies and Fall Fest the perfect time to gear up for the upcoming ski season. The annual tent sale takes place at Washington and Jefferson Streets, and three of EVL’s finest ski and gear shops—City Garage, Dekdebruns and Mud Sweat N Gears— will be selling everything you need at discounted prices. Holiday Valley’s Mountain Shop Tent Sale will also be going on both days.

If you’re looking to trade in that outgrown gear, head to Holiday Valley’s Ski Swap, with check ins and picks ups scheduled Thursday through Saturday. Check out the schedule for times.

Holiday Valley’s Marketing Director, Jane Eshbaugh, said that the resort will also be featuring their third and final in the Road Show Rail Jam on Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. at the base of Mardi Gras so everyone in line can watch. “It’s a ramp with an artificial snow carpet leading to a rail so skiers and snowboarders can get some pre-winter riding and offer up their best tricks on the rail,” she explained. The Rail Jam is to the public, and kids under 18 need a parent signature. (Bring your own equipment, helmets required.)

Holiday Valley will also be offering $7 chairlift rides on both the Spruce and Mardi Gras chairs, which Eshbaugh said are the biggest draws for the weekend. Ride to the top and enjoy live music at the top of Mardi Gras and a Birds of Prey show by Jonathan Clarkson at Spruce Lake at 2 p.m. each day.

According to Eshbaugh, Fall Fest is about “celebrating the upcoming winter and giving people lots of great reasons to come visit our town.”

Two races are planned for those looking to burn off some energy and calories. On Saturday, Oct. 7, the annual Fall Festival 5K Run kicks off at 9:30 a.m. from Holiday Valley, when runners take to the local streets on this fun, challenging and climbing finish course. A fun post-race party takes place at the Holiday Valley Mountain Sports Center with light lunch, beverages and great door prizes. The race helps support HEART Animal Shelters and the Holiday Valley Ski Patrol.

The following day, on Oct. 8, the Fall Festival Mountain Bike race takes over the mountain at Holiday Valley. Bikers will navigate the 4.7-mile course with challenging climbs and downhills, combined with amazing single-track sections. Compete for the door-prize pool and awards ceremony, which recognizes the top three finishers in several age groups and classes. The races start promptly at 10 a.m. at Holiday Valley’s Mountain Sports Center For more info on both races, visit

If it’s live music you’re after, take your pick Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Kick off the weekend by checking out QPhunk at Madigan’s at 4 p.m., The Porcelain Busdrivers at Balloons at 7 p.m., Keith James at Villaggio at 9 p.m. and the Joe Wagner Band at The Gin Mill at 9 p.m.

The music starts back up at noon on Saturday, with Ryan Melquist and Qwister at Balloons, or Tommy Z on top of the mountain at Holiday Valley. At 1, choose from the Tim Britt Band at EBC’s Big Stage, Generations at the Village Gazebo or the Mick Hayes Band at Madigan’s. Follow that up with a 2 p.m. performance by Black Widow at Balloons or a 3 p.m. show by The Strangers at Holiday Valley’s Cabana Bar. Back in the Village at 4 p.m., check out Ozone Rangers at the Firemen’s Tent or Keith James Shuskie, of The Voice fame, at Balloons. At 4:30, Nerds Gone Wild will play at EBC, followed by Strictly Hip at Finnerty’s, and Darkwater at Balloons at 6. Cap off the evening with DJ Gilroy at the EBC Beer Garden, Hit and Run at EBC’s Big Stage, Funktional Flow at Balloons, all at 8 p.m., and Max Moscato Band at Villaggio at 9.

If that’s not enough, Sunday offers even more. At noon, check out Black and Blues Band at the top of HV’s Mardi Gras lift. Football fans can watch the game on the big screen at EBC, followed by Mo Porter in the Beer Garden. The Guitar Club will perform at the Village Gazebo at 1. Other bands on the docket include Midlife Crisis at HV’s Cabana Bar at 3, The Strangers at Balloons at 4 and 2 Guys Drinkin’ Beer at the Gin Mill at 8.

Looking for an easy way to get to and from Holiday Valley during the event? Take the shuttle bus. For $3 a person, riders will be taken from St. Mary’s Church, at the corner of Jefferson Street (Route 219) and Martha Avenue, to all points toward the Holiday Valley Main Lodge from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The shuttle bus then runs from the area on Washington Street in front of M&T Bank until 3am on Saturday, Midnight on Sunday.

This weekend is all about friends, family, festivities and fall fun. Make it count at Fall Festival!