With the kids out of school and the thermometer finally locked into the 70s and 80s, it’s time for most people around the area to plan their summer activities. For sports fans, there is no shortage of events around the area or within a short road trip to get your sporting fix. Here’s hoping part one of this list helps to narrow down some plans, or even create new ones. Any suggestions on other summer getaway ideas can be emailed to email@example.com
High school football all-star games: Need your fix of high school football a month or two early? Then you’re in luck, as the region has two annual football all-star games set once again for this summer. First up, is the fourth annual Frank Varischetti All-Star game set for Friday, June 28 in Brockway. The game pits the best seniors from the old Allegheny Mountain League (AML) against those from the former Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference (KSAC) and is the beginning of the week-long Brockway Old Fashioned Fourth of July celebrations. Other activities include live music, rides, a car show, and of course, fireworks on Thursday, July 4. Kickoff for the Varischetti game is set for 7 p.m.
Then, on August 3, it’s one of the area’s longest-running summer traditions with the 46th annual Big 30 Charities Classic. This year’s Pennsylvania squad will be led by the Bradford coaching staff as the Keystone State looks for its fourth consecutive victory over New York. Kickoff is set for 7 o’clock at the gorgeous Parkway Field in Bradford, one of the nicest facilities in District 9 — if not the state — to watch a football game. In addition to the game, a parade is set for 2:30 p.m. the day of. Following the parade there will be a tailgate party in the high school parking lot outside the football field in the pavilion for those eager for some grilled summer favorites before they head into the game.
Erie SeaWolves: Not only are the SeaWolves a fun, affordable night out at a Double-A ballpark, but there’s a strong chance you’ll see a homegrown talent donning the red and black, as well. Johnsonburg’s Cole Peterson is currently still with the SeaWolves (an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers). The hour and a half trek has been a popular journey so far in June. For those who haven’t yet made it over to UPMC Park in Erie, the SeaWolves have 38 home games remaining. Tickets prices vary depending on the day of the week and the seat, but average around $15, making it an affordable day trip with the family. The organization also puts on a bevy of promotions, including fireworks most weekends, jersey and bobblehead giveaways and ‘Kids Eat Free’ days at the ballpark — if you arrive at the gate early enough. The team begins a six-game homestand this Friday.
Steelers/Bills training camps: It’s the first chance to get a look at your favorite NFL clubs, and usually the most up close and personal you’ll be able to get for the entire season. Neither team has announced its 2019 training camp schedules as of Monday night, but NFL rules usually force teams to begin camp the second-to-last week of July, this year with a target date of Monday, July 22. The Bills are under contract for another year at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, N.Y., although the team does hold a couple of practices at New Era Field in August. Pittsford is located just outside of Rochester, a beautiful city that has plenty to offer in its own right. Be sure to grab one of Rochester’s famous garbage plates on your way home, but double-check that you have a bottle of Tums nearby.
Similar to the Bills, Pittsburgh holds its training camp offsite, at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe. The Steelers have held camp there for 54 seasons, so it has become something of an institution for the region. The website (laurelhighlands.org) has a thorough guide for the camp, including the best places to stand for autographs before and after practices, activities for the kids, and restaurant and bar options before you head home. And the best part: nearly all of the practices for both teams are free and include complimentary parking and merchandise.
Part II of the list will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.