BUFFALO, N.Y. — Western New Yorkers know just how much Buffalo's waterfront has to offer and now community leaders have found the perfect way to showcase it.
"A lot of us have wanted to do this since the early 2000s and we finally got a chance to put it together," said Mike Vogel, the host port organizer of the Tall Ships Festival at Canalside.
He told 2 on Your Side, "We're anticipating 125,000 people over the next three days passed this day and a local economic impact of six to eight million dollars."
A few years ago, an event of this scale maybe didn't seem feasible but as Buffalo changes so do the possibilities.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, "It will again reinforce that the City of Buffalo is able to host world-class events and that people want to come and enjoy events in the City of Buffalo."
The CEO and president of Visit Buffalo Niagara, Patrick Kaler, said the event will have a spillover effect onto the rest of the city.
"There are people that will come specifically for the Tall Ships. They'll stay overnight so they will go to the restaurants, go to some of our nightlife, do some other activities while they're here," said Kaler. "I think that's what's really a good draw for this type of event is that it does have lots of legs for our tourism industry."
Coordinators said this type of event typically draws visitors from a four-hour driving radius. Even some of the volunteers travel several hours to be a part of the experience.
Vogel believes the tall ships connect Western New York to its history in a way that many other events can't match.
He explained, "They evoke something in us in terms of our adventurous spirit. These are the vessels that took us out on exploration and brought us home. I think that speaks to the heart and soul of people who come down to see them."
The hope is to bring this festival back every three years and put Buffalo on the map as a destination for maritime activities.
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