Mike Uncorked: I Love Lucy: My Dream Vacation to Jamestown, New York!
By Mike Butler
I was ten years old when Lucille Ball passed away. It’s one of my first recollections of a celebrity who meant something special to me dying and I remember having to process her death and learn the ability to look back on someone’s life and career and find great appreciation in their legacy! After Lucille Ball, artists like John Candy, John Ritter, Phyllis Diller, Mary Tyler Moore, Harvey Korman, Gene Wilder, and so many more have passed on and left an indelible and inspiring gift of comedy and laughter to the world; a gift that has truly fuelled my life: I love to laugh, I love to be positive, and I love the beautiful art of comedy!
Lucille Ball was born in Jamestown, New York (about 90 minutes south of Buffalo) and in that town, rich with history, Lucy’s legacy and the powerful art of comedy are celebrated. You will find many theatres, museums, and displays celebrating the First Lady of Comedy and, also, The National Comedy Centre (opened in 2018 and quickly becoming one of the most attended attractions in North America).
Each August the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival takes place in Jamestown, and in celebration of my 40th birthday this year, I fulfilled a dream of mine and spent five days in Jamestown, surrounded by Lucy-loving folks from all over the world: comedians, laughter, food, fun, and polka dots abounded, and I sincerely came back to Wolfville a changed man!
First of all, if you have something you’ve always wanted to do but keep putting off, well… DO IT! I travelled to Jamestown by myself with no argument from my husband, family, or friends, because I have been talking about this trip for 20 years! I believe in time and place and there was never a better time for me to go to Jamestown than this year: this was MY time to experience it. I met amazing people, swam in laughter and good cheer, saw fantastic performers, embraced the small independent businesses and hometown feel that makes Jamestown special, and I loved every minute of it!
Jamestown reminded me so much of Wolfville! There were no fast food restaurants (all mom & pop shops) and, even though I counted 12 Tim Horton’s shops in the surrounding area, the downtown had two beautiful independent coffee shops, and I spent all my mornings sipping locally-roasted coffee at The Crown Street Roasting Company and it was to die for!
And the festival, well, where do I start? I purchased tickets to, and this is no lie, EVERYTHING offered during the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, including both comedy headliners (John Mulaney and Sebastian Maniscolco), admission to the Lucy-Desi Museum, The National Comedy Centre, and the three nights of comedy showcases and late night stand up comedians, and let’s not forget all of the I Love Lucy-themed events, including Lucy’s Hometown Tour, the Cemetery Tour to see Lucy’s grave, the reenactments of the grape stomping and chocolate wrapping skits from her show, photo ops, special luncheons, history seminars of the town and Lucy’s impact, the I Love Lucy trivia contest, community block parties, and Lucy’s Birthday Bash (with internationally celebrated tribute artists playing Lucy and Ethel). I ended my trip with the Summer Wind steam boat ride around Chautauqua Lake!
There’s no way I could ever fit the whole experience into one article. Walking around “Lucy’s streets,” seeing the house that she grew up in, embracing the rich history of Jamestown (established 1806), interacting with locals (who fell in love instantly with this Nova Scotian who couldn’t stop smiling), and touring the comedy museum, listening to belly-laughs and loud giggles, was so good for my soul. When saying “so long,” I had a very emotional moment sitting in front of the National Comedy Centre, as I realized that my five days (which took 20 years to come to pass) were now over. I felt overwhelmed with emotion because of the generosity and welcoming environment of Jamestown!
Will I go back? YES!! The dream was so big and I dreamed it for so long, why would I rob myself of multiple chances to experience it? If you have a dream vacation spot, I’ll say it again, do it! We all need a little me time! I spent mine with Lucy and I loved it!