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Friday, December 29, 2017

Let’s Ride – Carefully

Some, But Not All, Snowmobile Trails Are Now Open
The Chautauqua Lake Snowmobile Club announced this week that four of its snow groomers are currently down, but that the majority of the county’s snowmobile trails are now open for snowmobiles. 
AP file photo
The Chautauqua Lake Snowmobile Club announced this week that four of its snow groomers are currently down, but that the majority of the county’s snowmobile trails are now open for snowmobiles. AP file photo
After a month of weird weather ranging from unseasonably warm temperatures to above average snowfall, Chautauqua County’s snowmobile trails are now open only a week behind schedule.
The Chautauqua Lake Snowmobile Club announced this week that the trails were open as of Thursday, just eight days after the originally planned opening date at the beginning of snowmobile season on Dec. 20. The delays came first in the form of a lack of snow and exceedingly muddy trails, but consecutive weeks of harsh and heavy snowfall transformed the trails into a snowscape requiring many man hours and equipment to clear.
“CLSC trails will be open (today), but ride with caution,” the club announced in a statement. “Snow is deep and wet underneath. It may also be hiding branches or fallen trees. Snow banks at road crossings are a major safety concern, some nearing 6 feet high. We are trying to open them up. Some signs may be hidden in the snow. There are still a few gates we are trying to get open. Please stay on the trails. Our landowners have been more than generous.”
The announcement added that the trail to Busti is still closed, and four of its 10 groomers are currently down, making for difficulty in getting all the trails as navigable as they could be.
“Grooming will be limited and some trails have not been checked, so ride safe and with a partner,” the announcement concluded.
The county offers over 450 miles of snowmobile trails, which take riders across rolling foothills, open meadows and forestlands.
These trail systems are the result of a strong collaboration among Chautauqua County’s five snowmobile clubs: Chautauqua Lake Snowmobile Club, Cherry Creek Sno-Goers, Ellery Sno-Cruisers, Lake Effect Trailbreakers and Sunset Drifters; and hundreds of landowners, volunteers and other key stakeholders.
Snowmobile registration can be done at any of the County’s three Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices and registration is $45 for snowmobile club members and $100 for non-members. DMV offices are open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday through Friday and each office has one day a week where they are open until 5:45 p.m.
The Dunkirk office is open late on Mondays, the Mayville office is open late on Wednesdays and the Jamestown office is open late on Thursdays.
To learn more about the county’s snowmobile clubs, and to keep updated on trail conditions, visit,,, and

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Thursday, December 21, 2017

Chautauqua Lake Funding A Small Step In The Right Direction

More than $6 million in improvements are on their way to Chautauqua Lake.
The money can’t come soon enough.
Last summer likely won’t be remembered as a good one for Chautauqua Lake. Blue-green algae blooms popped up for much of the summer and fall. Weeds and vegetation have been a recurring problem for nearly two decades, with last year no exception to the rule. There is no single fix to the lake’s algae and weed problems, but improving septic and sewer systems around the lake is one of the best ways to remove phosphorus and other nutrients that are part of the cocktail that create blue-green algae from the lake.
It has been estimated that completing a new sewer system around Chautauqua Lake will cost about $81 million. There is obviously not that much money in Chautauqua County’s collective couch cushions to pay for that, nor is there an ability to take out loans for that big a cost. Roughly a year ago, Rolland Kidder, a Stow resident and former state Assemblyman, wrote an op-ed to The Post-Journal detailing the difficulties over the years getting state support for sewer and water projects because they lack the “sizzle” of bigger projects. The cost and lack of sizzle have left some wondering if completing a sewer around Chautauqua Lake is a pipe dream.
The state’s investment of $5 million for a sewer extension in North Harmony and $1 million to help the Chautauqua Heights Sewer District Wastewater Treatment Plant project is only about 7.5 percent of the total cost of sewering Chautauqua Lake. More importantly, the size of the grants are a sign from the state that they realize the importance of Chautauqua Lake environmentally and economically to Chautauqua County.
The five townships that surround Chautauqua Lake constitute 40 percent of the property value of the county with a total assessment of $2.7 billion. Protecting that asset is just as important as shiny new buildings. And it is good to see the state come to the realization that a healthy Chautauqua Lake will bring more tourists to Chautauqua County than any new building.

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Thursday, December 07, 2017

Western New York's Cockaigne ski resort to reopen in 2018 with new owners

The Cockaigne Ski Area in western New York closed in 2011 after a fire destroyed the main lodge. The resort, with new owners, is expected to reopen next year. (Photo courtesy Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau)
The Cockaigne Ski Area in western New York closed in 2011 after a fire destroyed the main lodge. The resort, with new owners, is expected to reopen next year. (Photo courtesy Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau)
CHERRY CREEK, New York - Western New York's Cockaigne ski resort, closed since 2011 when a fire destroyed its main lodge, will reopen next year with new owners.
A popular winter destination for Northeast Ohio skiers, Cockaigne was known for its laid-back, family-friendly atmosphere and abundant natural snow. It sits on several hundred acres in Chautauqua County, New York, about 20 miles south of Lake Erie and 150 miles east of Cleveland.
The resort has been for sale for six years, since shortly after a fire in January 2011 destroyed the resort's iconic lodge, which was built as the Austrian Pavilion for the World's Fair in New York City in 1964.
Cockaigne's new logo.
Long-time owner Jack Van Scoter, 82 at the time, didn't have insurance on the property and said he was too old to rebuild.
Enter Adam Pirtz and Isaac Gratto, who met years ago while working together at nearby Peek'n Peak resort. They had talked for years about buying Cockaigne.
The sale was official this week and work on the $3.5 million renovation project begins immediately.
Related: Where to ski near Cleveland: A snow lover's guide to 12 winter resorts in Ohio, surrounding states
The first order of business is to rebuild the lodge. Plans call for a 20,000-square-foot facility, which will house ticket sales, a rental facility, food service, restrooms and more. Pirtz said work on the building will begin as soon as possible, and should be completed by summer 2018.
The new owners plan to make Cockaigne a year-round destination, with concerts, festivals and other family-friendly activities during the warmer months and skiing, along a new snow tubing course, during the winter.
Much of the resort's old equipment and infrastructure will be replaced, including rental skis and snowboards, grooming and snow-making machines, lighting, parking areas and more.
But Pirtz said some of the existing equipment still works, including four lifts -- three two-person chairlifts and a J-bar. The park will add two new conveyor belt lifts to the beginner area and tubing park.
When it closed, Cockaigne had 14 slopes. The new owners plan to add two more, for a total of 16 next winter.
Gratto said the resort will keep the trails' sweet-treat names: Cracker Jack, Marzipan, Kandy Kaigne and Peppermint Twist, among others.
Interestingly, neither Pirtz, a native of Cortland, Ohio, nor Gratto, who grew up in western New York, has ever skied at Cockaigne. Both grew up skiing at nearby Peek'n Peak.
Pirtz said the community reaction to the resort's reopening has been overwhelming.
"It's been unbelievable. The feedback and the support is more than we could have anticipated," he said. "It's everywhere - locally, from groups in Ohio, ski shops. It's unreal."

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Sunday, November 05, 2017

New Hotel Officials Optimistic As Comedy Center Opening Nears

The ongoing construction of the National Comedy Center in downtown Jamestown has two area hotel officials excited about future possibilities.
Brandon Wade, Double Tree by Hilton general manager/chief of sales, said with the new Fourth Street hotel expecting to open in 2018, the National Comedy Center will be a complimentary attraction that will draw more people into staying the night in downtown Jamestown.
“The DoubleTree by Hilton Jamestown is excited and proud to partner with the National Comedy Center,” Wade said. “We are excited to open our doors in late summer 2018, which gives us time to perfectly prepare for all the guests that the National Comedy Center will attract.”
Work has begun at the downtown hotel along Fourth Street, which has sat empty since 2013 when the Hamister Group of Buffalo purchased the hotel during an online auction. The total renovation project for the downtown hotel is estimated to be more than $14 million.
An official for the new $30-plus million Chautauqua Harbor Hotel in Celoron is also excited about the national attraction based on the celebration of comedy. David Hart, Hart Hotels president, said the future tourist attraction is one of many reasons why they selected to build a hotel in the greater Jamestown area.
“The development of the National Comedy Center certainly helped to solidify the selection of Chautauqua Lake as the location for the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel,” he said. “We’re incredibly excited about the progress that they’ve made and know that they’ll help keep us booked up all year long.”
In July, a groundbreaking was held for the future hotel with guest Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul. The facility is expected to be ready during the summer of 2018. During the groundbreaking, Hochul was joined by local and state officials as well as hotel developers Hart and Peter Krog, Krog Corp chief executive officer.Our Listings: www.chautauquala

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Sunday, October 01, 2017

Colors of Chautauqua County, New York
Celebrate fall all season long with festivals, learning, and harvest in western New York. Take a class during the 2017 Colors of Chautauqua with workshops, tours, tastings, and special events happening from Labor Day to Veteran's Day. Choose from dozens of experiences with culinary, creative, and cultural themes. See below for a sampling of events. The full schedule is available on the Colors of Chautauqua Calendar. Experience the Harvest in the Lake Erie Grape Region. Take a Sightseeing Tour Around Chautauqua Lake. See a map of the Natural Attractions and Hikes. Enjoy the local bounty, great outdoors, and heritage of Chautauqua County: the World's Learning Center.
Don't forget to tag us on Facebook or Instagram with @TourChautauqua or #TourChautauqua. 
Five Ways to Experience Fall in the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Region
Slow down and appreciate the autumn bounty
Perhaps one reason fall is so well loved is that it gives us permission to slow down after hectic summers. Located just 2.5 hours from Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Rochester, and 1.5 hours from Buffalo, Chautauqua County is the perfect destination for a fall getaway. Far enough and bursting with new sights and experiences so that we feel we have traveled somewhere, but close enough that the trip doesn't have to be a big production. Maybe you've been to Chautauqua countless times during the summer months but have yet to experience the autumn bounty. Keep reading for five suggested ways to spend an unforgettable fall weekend in Chautauqua County, New York.

Celebrate the Harvest in Western New York
Visit America's Grape Country!
Along the eastern shores of Lake Erie, "harvest" means grapes and from mid-September through the end of October, it's the primary thought on everyone's mind. In this region-known as America's Grape Country-the quintessential harvest experience is to get outside and inhale the sweet, intoxicating aroma emanating from vineyards laden with Concord grapes.
- By Stephanie Shuckers Burdo

The All New Peek'n Peal Season Pass
Lower prices & awesome perks!

Peek'n Peak Resort's all new season passes include six options with price points beginning at only $199. Unlimited season-long skiing with no blackout dates is only $499. Passes go on sale October 1, 2017. Rates increase after December 1, 2017.

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Upcoming Events
Brewmaster Dinner at Peek'n Peak Resort October 6, 2017
Join us at Bistro 210 for the Brewmaster Dinner featuring Southern Tier Brewing Company! A five course dinner paired with STBC brews will be served. Reservations are highly recommended. Overnight packages are available. 

12th Annual Saints & Sinners Cemetery Walking Tours
October 7, 2017
Narrated horse drawn and walking tours of Jamestown, NY's Lakeview Cemetery. Uncover some of the more than 43,000 personal stories of the residents of this beautiful cemetery. Presale tickets are available at the Fenton History Center.
Johnson Estate Fall Foliage Vineyard Walks Sundays in October 2017
 Join 3rd generation owner, Fred Johnson, on a 40-minute vineyard walk at Johnson Estate Winery, New York State's oldest estate winery. Framed by the hillside and colorful fall foligage, this is an experience you won't soon forget. The tour concludes in the tasting room with samples of Johnson Estate's award-wining vintages.
30th Annual Fall Fest Weekends at Peek'n Peak Resort
Oct. 14-15 & 21-22 
Brilliant foliage sets the scene for a juried craft show with more than 130 vendors and a farmers' market beside activities like the pumpkin cannon, children's games, petting zoo, live entertainment, pony rides, ski lift rides, classic car cruise-in and an annual snowsports equipment swap! 

Black Violin Concert: Classical Boom Tour @ Reg Lenna, Jamestown
October 20, 2017
American hip hop duo from Florida composed of two classically trained string instrumentalists who play a variety of music. This mingling of hip hop and classical sensibilities is what is generally thought to give them their distinctive style.

Wine & Candy Pairing: Halloween at Liberty Vineyards
October 28 & 28, 2017
Costumes are encouraged! Visit Liberty Vineyards & Winery and give your best "trick or treat!" Maybe you'll be given a free sample of their award-winning wines in return. Sample wine and candy pairings. Prizes awarded for creative costumes.  

More fall events, including farm-to-table dining and haunted Halloween festivities can be found on the Colors of Chautauqua Event Calendar
Request a Guide
Plan your vacation with the help of the 2017 "I Love NY" Chautauqua County Visitors Guide.
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Download an APP
The Visit Chautauqua County APP is available through iTunes or 
Google Play.
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Get a Jump Start on Fall
Find tips for planning your autumn Chautauqua County, NY experience.
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