Labor Day marks the unofficial end to summer. And cities across the country go all out to celebrate in their own special way. Here is a sampling of what's happening this weekend. The good news: you won't have to dig deep into your wallets to have a great time. (For other cost-effective vacations, read 7 Cheap And Fun Vacation Alternatives.)
TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics
Buffalo Wing Festival
It's been said that Buffalo is where the popular appetizers were first created, and this two-day festival is a celebration of all things wings. Events include the Running of the Chickens, various wing eating contests (Amateur, Competitive, United States Championship and Ridiculously Hot); Cheesiest Couple Contest; and the Miss Buffalo Wing Pageant.
Admission is $5 per day; children 8 and under are free. Food tickets are $1 each and are used to purchase items in the festival.
Buffalo native, Drew Cerza, known as the Wing King, conceptualized the idea of a festival in 2002, inspired by the movie, Osmosis Jones, starring Bill Murray. Since its inception, more than 407,000 people have attended and 137 tons of wings have been served.
Dansville, New York
New York State Festival of Balloons takes place at the Dansville Municipal Airport. Activities include arts & crafts, entertainment, tether rides ($15, $10 for children 12 and under); several launches of fabulous balloons. Admission is $5 per person; children under 12 free.
Asbury Park, New Jersey
The Fireworks Display on the famous Boardwalk on Sunday night, is just one of the Jersey Shore's spectacular treats this weekend. Fireworks are free.
The National Symphony Orchestra is performing Sunday on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Concert is free.
Kennedy Center Page-to-Stage Festival is a three-day event featuring local theater companies in a series of free readings and play rehearsals of the upcoming 2011/12 stage season. Another free event is the DC Blues Festival features local and national blues artists performing at the Carter Barron Amphitheater.
Maloof Money Cup D.C. features the best of the best skateboarders competing at the new skate park at the RFK Stadium Grounds. Tickets are required.
Virginia Scottish Games is an annual event celebrating Scottish heritage. Includes piping and drumming, highland dancing and fiddling competitions, sheep-herding demonstrations, an antique car show and children's activities. Prices are as follows: Two Day - $30 per adult; Single Day - $20 per adult; $5 for ages 5-12;
Free for ages 5 and under.
Treat yourself to a "Taste of Colorado," a four-day food fest at Civic Center Park. Enjoy food from more than 50 area restaurants. Other features include artisan vendors, live entertainment and the LEGO Experience Tour. (For kids of all ages) Admission is free; food and attractions require tickets.
The Denver Art Museum's must-see program Marvelous Mud on Saturday - a free multimedia celebration of clay and creativity throughout the ages. Families can get their hands dirty while creating their own masterpiece.
The Jazz Aspen Snowmass is a three-day non-stop, open-air fest featuring local artists of R&B, jazz, rock, funk and soul held at the the Snowmass Town Park. The festival, founded in 1991, is run by a non-profit organization whose mission is to "present and preserve jazz." Ticket prices are per person: $60 Friday; $85 Saturday & Sunday; $150 2-Day Sat/Sun Pass; $200 3-Day Pass
Bumbershoot 2011 at the Seattle Center
Since 1971, Bumbershoot has drawn the best in music, film, comedy, spoken word, dance, theater, performance, and visual arts performers. Its claim to fame: North America's largest urban arts festival. Single day pass is $35; 3-day pass is $90 plus fees.
Celebrate Bandera attracts visitors from all over the region. Treat yourself to an intertribal powwow, a Wild West Show, take in a gunfight, some bull riding and enjoy real Texas fare in the self-proclaimed Cowboy Capital of the World. Admission is free, with the exception of several events ($5-10)
The bottom line:
If you want to get away for an end-of-summer treat on the Labor Day weekend, you have plenty of choices. And it won't cost you a bundle to enjoy yourself. (For some other ideas on festivals, check out The Best Summer Festivals For Your Buck.)