By Alicia Dziak

In a first ever for Ellicottville, the Ellicottville Lacrosse Festival is happening this weekend, Sept. 22- 24. The fields will be set and teams will descend on our area, ready for a weekend of one of the fastest growing sports in the country.

The tournament promises to bring some exciting competition, with many teams participating.

“We have 38 teams registered ranging from 5/6 graders to 50 year olds,” explained Mike Riorden of Rhino Lacrosse, who worked with the Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce to organize this event. “This year, we have both club and school teams coming from Buffalo, Canada,  Rochester, Syracuse, Pennsylvania and Ohio.”

   This year’s tournament is for boys and men only, but Riorden said, “we are already in talks with Lynn Reitenbach about adding girls/women’s teams for next year.”

While this is the first tournament for Riorden, he noted, “My partner, Ryan Powell, runs tournaments in Saratoga, Bend, OR and Bozeman, MT during the summer, along with camps, clinics and club teams under the Rhino brand. I believe the Bend Tournament had 180 teams this year and I truly believe that the Ellicottville tournament has the potential to grow to that size over time.”

There are countless small towns that could host such an event, so why Ellicottville?

“I play in tournaments all over the country with my men’s team, Team Tarzan and in 2004, after coming back from a tournament in Vail, CO, I visited Ellicottville for the first time and immediately knew this would be a great town to host a tournament,” explained Riorden. “For 13 years, this idea rolled around in my head, then last year I met Ryan and with his experience and success in running destination tournaments, it was a no brainer. Then when we added my son Blaze (Buffalo Bandits, Rochester Rattlers) to the team, it really completed the picture. I would also like to say that Brian, Chris and John from the Chamber have been as supportive and excited about bringing lacrosse to Ellicottville as we are, so it’s been a perfect match.”

In a recent press release, Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Brian McFadden said, “Several years ago, the Chamber began to focus some of our marketing dollars on outdoor adventure activities and it has paid off. We are now seeing more and more visitors on the hills, in the lakes and enjoying our many other outdoor attractions. Adding the Lacrosse tournament is just one more notch in our collective belts. No wonder USA Today calls Ellicottville ‘an outdoor lovers paradise’.”

Games will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. all weekend long. Games consist of two 22-minute running halves with a 5-minute halftime. Make sure to check out the vendor village for your tournament apparel, music, games, and food.

All games will be played either at the Ellicottville Central School athletic field complex (5873 US-219, Ellicottville) or at the Village Park (11 Parkside Drive, Ellicottville).

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