Insiders Guide to E’Ville’s Mardi Gras Celebration
By Chad Neal
Another ski season is coming to a close. The bittersweet ending to the camaraderie that the winter brings together in Ellicottville isn’t without celebration though. Holiday Valley hosts their Winter Carnival this weekend and Ellicottville has their own Mardi Gras celebration in the village, and revels on levels seen in New Orleans. Holiday Valley has many activities throughout the weekend including the Dummy Downhill, and the ever-popular Snow-Bar built and run by the Snowmakers that make sure the winter season is ski season. There is so much going throughout the village all weekend long. The Mardi Gras parade Saturday evening is the only diversion from all the entertainment and partying, and the parade is a party itself, including the beads and swag given away and the laughter, costumes, and enjoyment that comes with it. Everyone loves a parade. To give a little insight into this weekend’s events and where they take place, here is an insider’s look at the Mardi Gras celebration this weekend. To learn more about the musical groups performing this weekend check out “Whats Shakin’ in Eville” column on page 6 right here in the Villager.
Villaggio, on Monroe Street is a popular spot in town among the local crowd and is quickly recognized by our new and seasoned visitors, as a great addition to the Ellicottville scene. The relaxed Italian dining atmosphere offers a great experience as the staff is an outstanding team that works together. Villaggio has several themed events all year round, some weekly, some random and especially exciting when Ellicottville is celebrating special times like this weekend. (Little known fact: On Sunday nights at Villaggio the bartender challenges patrons at the bar in a “Name the Tune” contest.)
Ellicottville Brewing Company has become a destination of its own. EBC has grown into a huge distiller and distributor of craft beer going on 23 years now. EBC is going to open its newest location this Spring. The Little Valley Brewery, Public Pub and Science Center will be a year-round destination with outdoor concert space, Summer Beer Garden, family friendly winter activities and an all ages Craft Brewing Science Center. This marks the fourth location for EBC. There other locations are in Bemus Point and Fredonia, NY.
Madigan’s on Washington Street in the center of the village is very well known for its party atmosphere and celebrating Mardi Gras is something they do best. This year the parade can be watched from the upstairs dance-floor as they have placed several windows across the front of the building. Madigan’s is always doing something new. This weekend along with thousands of beads being handed out- great tunes will be pumped out as well. Friday evening the Masquerade party will take place and the upstairs will be transformed into a New Orleans wonderland. This is the prelude to the parade where the King and Queen will be crowned. The private gala is from 7-9pm, tickets are $35 advanced, can be purchased through the Chamber of Commerce and $40 at the door. (Another locally known secret that not many visitors realize is that is Madigan’s serves lunches Tuesday through Friday. There is also Taco Tuesday and gourmet dinners are served on Friday and Saturday evenings. More known as a night spot to unwind and dance, play pool, foosball, darts or watching Chive TV along with the sports on the many televisions in the bar, Madigan’s has a full menu.)
The Gin Mill on Washington Street is another very popular spot in the Village. Also, in the center of everything, the Gin Mill draws the crowds in with their huge front windows showing off the bar inside with all the décor they have on every inch of the building. Great food at affordable prices is another draw for the Gin Mill, and the fact that they have live music several times a week makes them a place to stop and visit whenever you’re in town. This weekend is nothing short of entertaining with their music line up for the Mardi Gras weekend.
Balloons Restaurant and Nightclub on Monroe Street is another great venue for live music. Now with two different bars with room for live entertainment, the original island bar in the front with the nice sized raised stage, and the newer one in the back. Balloons has been known recently for bringing in some well-known acts from across the country to wow the patrons. Michael Kerns, owner of Balloons is a fan of great music and any chance he gets to bring in a superior band, he does. Some of the acts he has had are Jeff Jensen, Victor Wainright, Joe Louis Walker, Jason Ricci, Southern Hospitality, Bryan Lee, Frank Bang and the Cook County Kings, B.D. Lenz, JP Soars, Poppa Chubby, the Sauce Boss, Brandon Santini, Damon Fowler, Nick Moss and Gracie Curran among others and Kerns is working on some new ones as well. It is also a popular place on Monday nights with $.25 wings.
Finnerty’s Tap Room on Mill Street, directly behind Kwik Fill, offers a full menu with differing cuisines for patrons to choose from, including vegetarian options. The bar has a several taps with beers ranging from local to domestic as well as a full bar. The televisions all around the bar and dining area make sure all the games will be shown from any angle. Finnerty’s Tap Room also has live entertainment this weekend for the Mardi Gras Celebration.
Public House on Monroe Street is another new “Pub” that opened in the village of Ellicottville in December; “Pub” being short for Public House. A public house which is old key for bar, tavern, or even Inn where the public is welcome in to sup, imbibe and perhaps spend the night. The new public house in Ellicottville is The Public House, the third restaurant of the same name opened Frank and Sara Testa along with their partners. It is located where Cadillac Jacks previously served the public on Monroe St. between Cupcaked and Gado Gado. Their other restaurants are on Hertel Avenue in Buffalo and Lake Shore Road in Hamburg. The Public House is Craft Casual. They hand make everything on the menu. They specialize in Craft Beer and have 20 beers on tap as well as 50 bottles and cans.
Winter Carnival and Mardi Gras in Ellicottville have become one of the largest celebrations the town and village see throughout the year. Knowing that Ellicottville makes for great times and memories, keeps the jovial spirits coming back more and more often during the year. All of the businesses in Ellicottville will be themed this weekend and the New Orleans style atmosphere will be playing a role in the memories of anyone who celebrates here. Stay safe and be responsible, as many people will be celebrating along with you, including families with children in the early evening and on the slopes. Mardi Gras and Winter Carnival weekend just keeps getting better and better, be cool and have fun!