This year, the lilacs should peak during the Lilac Festival

Every year at this time, Rochesterians begin debating whether the lilacs will be in peak for the city’s annual Lilac Festival.  Last year, an unseasonably warm spring caused them to bloom early. That has certainly not been the case this year, so they should be just about perfect!  I find there’s something very magical about visiting Highland Park when the lilacs are in bloom. In addition to the beautiful  sea of white, sky blue, violet, red-violet, indigo and even pale yellow flowers with petals that flutter deliciously on the breeze, you can stand almost anyplace in the park and the scent of these fragrant flowers will waft to you, erasing memories of even the longest and most beastly winter!

The festival is free to attend, but there is a fee for some activities

The history of Highland Park goes back to 1888 when famed nurserymen George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry gave the city 20 acres of land, now known as Highland Park. The park was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, landscape architect who designed New York’s Central Park.  Horticultural expert John Dunbar might be considered the father of the park’s lilacs, because he is responsible for cultivating the first 20 varieties of lilacs there in 1892. The city’s Lilac Festival began in 1898 when 3000 people gathered one Sunday in May to stroll among the Lilacs in Highland Park.  Within 10 years, Lilac Sunday was attracting 25,000. Today, a half million people from all over the world enjoy this free festival in Highland Park that now boasts the largest collection of lilacs in the world, with 1200 bushes representing 500 varieties of lilacs.

The fragrant scent of lilacs wafts to you throughout the park

This festival is known, not only for the beauty of the lilacs and the park itself, but also for the variety exhibitors, arts and craft vendors (exhibiting on May 14 & 15 and May 21 & 22 only), food (one of the most frequently-asked questions is where to buy Nick Tahou’s famed “garbage plate”) and free entertainment that includes exceptional local, regional and national talent including these headliners:

Most frequent question? Where can I buy a Nick Tahou's "garbage plate"

The 2011 Lilac Queen, Amanda Torchia, will reign over the YNN Lilac Parade that, this year kicks off on Saturday May 14 at 10:30 a.m.  There will be a separate Children’s Lilac Stage with daily entertainment and the ever-popular Medved 5K and 10K race on Sunday May 22 is a must-do for runners!  Race fees are $20 if postmarked or registered on line by May 18, 2011, $20 if registered in person at Medved prior to race day, $25 if registered on race day; SPECIAL FAMILY RATE: Families of 4 or more may deduct $2 from each entry; Entries must be submitted together; 10K & 5K SPECIAL: Run both distances for $30 pre registered; $35 on race day.

There are also rides and activities for children, and plenty of opportunities to purchase lilacs to take home, as well as other plants.  If you’re over 21, you’ll enjoy the Farmer’s Market and Wine Tasting presented by Casa Larga under the Big Top on Thursday, May 19 from 12 Noon to 7 p.m.

Although attendance at the festival is free, there is a fee for some of the activities.

These are just a few of the activities taking place, so for a full schedule of happenings at the Festival, CLICK HERE.  While you’re at the Festival, be sure to visit Lamberton Conservatory and the Vietnam Veteran’s MemorialCLICK HERE for a pdf map of Highland Park that you can print out.

Rochester’s Lilac Festival is open from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. every day.  A good place to access the park is from Highland Avenue and Mount Hope Avenue in RochesterCLICK HERE for additional directions, including info on weekend shuttle parking at Monroe Community College.
For more photos of the park, here’s a photovideo of some of my favorite images  from last year:

Visions of Highland Park and Rochester’s Lilacs from CAROL WHITE LLEWELLYN on Vimeo.

Interested in more information about Rochester’s Lilac Festival? You may also like:


On May 7, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., visitors will have the opportunity to take part in one of Rochester’s newest celebrations…the “Imagine RIT Innovation & Creativity Festival.”  This event was the brainchild of University President, William W. Destler, designed to showcase the innovative and creative spirit that epitomizes Rochester Institute of Technology.  Those are strong words for any festival to live up to, but Imagine RIT more than rises to the occasion.

Imagine RIT Innovation + Creativity Festival from CAROL WHITE LLEWELLYN on Vimeo.

Our family attended last year not really knowing what to expect, but taking friends’ advice that we’d enjoy it.  What we discovered was an event that weaves science, engineering, art, interactivity and fun into one fantastic event that photos (or words) just don’t do justice.  The event sprawls across

You might just see into your future at Imagine RIT

much of the campus with activities that engage adults as well as children in everything from remote control car races, hands-on murals, life size sculptures, and interactive photography to inflatables for the kiddies and music and dance performances.

Imagine RIT is a free event, open to the public, and it takes place on the campus of Rochester Institute of Technology located at One Lomb Memorial Drive in Rochester.

Take my advice and don’t miss this event…education’s never been so much fun!

Join me as I interview the Airigami Team, who specialize in the “Fine Art of Folding Air,” at their recent show held at the Arts and Cultural Council of Greater Rochester.  The show, which illustrated fairy tales using balloon art, was called “Once Upon a Time.”

Airigami: Giving Fairy Tales a New Twist from CAROL WHITE LLEWELLYN on Vimeo.

...and he puffed, from "Once Upon a Time" by Airigami

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like “Larry Moss Builds Birth of Venus at Artprize 2009.”

For 2011, The Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend takes place on July 22-25.

Please note: Although Cooperstown and its Baseball Hall of Fame is not within the Finger Lakes region, I felt this would be of interest to local residents and travelers coming to this area. So, it is with pleasure that I share this contribution by guest author, Peter F. Eder. Peter is Senior Editor of The HUB magazine, a marketing publication, and Contributing Marketing and Communications Editor of The Futurist magazine.  Peter, a Darien CT resident, enjoys travel and writing about destinations in the U.S., Canada and Europe. 

To read part II of this article about the ceremony and other things to do, Click this link.

Induction Weekend at the Baseball Hall of Fame

Planning Your Visit

Induction Weekend at the Baseball Hall of Fame recognizes baseball's legends

The decision to attend a Hall of Fame Induction weekend requires advance planning.  For one thing, all the hotels, motels and upscale resorts are booked solid every year, by the sporting goods companies, major league teams, media outlets, etc.  So it’s a choice between driving long distances or finding a nearby bed-and-breakfast.  The latter is a wonderful option.  Our stay at Day Lily Dreams, a ten minute stroll to the Induction site provided a perfect solution to being near-at-hand, and in a wonderful environment.

A second complication is the size of the entering class and the notoriety of the new Famers.  In 2007, when the inductees included Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn more than 82,000 fans flooded Cooperstown.  [In 2008], Goose Gossage, and Dick Williams drew about 14,000 visitors, putting less strain on the town and the fans.

Getting There

While the New York State Thruway offers the quickest (and most expensive) option to getting to Cooperstown, the town is served by an excellent network of well paved, scenic, two lane roads.  The traveler will pass an occasional Amish farm (and perhaps a buggy), and numerous fruit, flower and ice cream stands.  Pick any one of them and you’ll find wonderful flavors, and typically benches or tables where one can take in the lovely rolling hills vistas, peppered with farms, fields and wooded lots.

Collecting Autographs

The Friday and Saturday before the Sunday Induction Ceremony were days of a carnival like event in the town.  It was an example of organized disorder.

A focal point of active attendance is getting a Hall of Famer (or aspiring Hall of Famer) to autograph something – not just a baseball or baseball card.

Hall members, (this year more than forty) were sitting at outdoor tables up and down the streets, or in hotels and restaurants, with their hours of appearance and locations pasted on building sites and listed in the newspapers and flyers.”  Prices varied dramatically by Hall of Famer – reflecting perhaps age, team, record, availability, .etc.

Collectors bought tickets and then waited in informal lines.  Prices varied by the type of item being signed – the bigger the item, the higher the rate, and new to the process, many are also charging extra for “dedications”.

In a short period of time, I saw a man carrying what turned out to be an encased blueprint section of the 1923 Yankee Stadium, covered with gathering signatures.  An even more striking example was the fan who had built a mobile device to roll two wooden, old time stadium seats up and down the streets, acquiring additional appropriate autographs

Senior Famers (like Yogi Berra, Bob Feller) sat side by side with recent inductees, bantering with each other and the fans.  Both the signers and the requestors were all having fun – polite, reminiscing, hand shaking, picture taking, back-patting and even an occasional hug.

My wife commented that she had never seen so many men dressed and acting like boys.  And with players being more mobile these days, (moving from team to team) the array of jerseys, caps and accessories were mind-numbing.  Serious collectors mingled with ordinary fans of all ages – all enjoying the experience.

For more information on visiting Cooperstown, visit This is Cooperstown.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also want to read Genesee Country Village & Museum that covers information about the 19th Century National Silver Base Ball Tournament and league there.

Jeff "Beachbum" Berry

The Finger Lakes is so well-known for its wine that we sometimes forget what a great region it is for other beverages such as beer and…cocktails!  In fact, one of the most famous international purveyors of cocktail ingredients is a company that started on North Water Street in Rochester almost 150 years ago. The four Fee brothers who originally owned the company – Owen, John, James and Joseph – used the slogan “The House of Fee by the Genesee since eighteen hundred and sixty-three.”  The business began as a liquor store and winery, but in the 1950’s, the family discontinued alcohol sales and began to focus exclusively on cocktail mixes, bitters, flavoring syrups and beverage products.

Today, Joe Fee and his sister Ellen own and operate Fee Brothers. When asked what it is like to run a company over 150 years old, Joe replied, “It’s a hoot!” at the same time as he wondered whether his ancestors would say “What is he doing?!”

Joe went on to share the history of bitters which were originally invented by a British Doctor in the 1800’s who was treating malaria. He developed bitters, derived from the angostura plant as a way to entice his patients to eat by stimulating their digestive juices – and it worked. One evening when he went back to his tent to relax, he saw his bottle of gin and, out of curiosity, added several drops of bitters to his drink…and a new drink was born. Ever since, bartenders have been adding bitters to alcoholic drinks to give them a distinctive background note of flavor.

Simon Ford has trained bartenders and opened bars across the globe

When Prohibition became entrenched in the U.S., from 1920 to 1933, many seasoned bartenders moved abroad, and the art of the cocktail disappeared from the U.S. for many years.  Once the internet became robust around the mid-1990s the Classic Cocktail Movement arose and cocktails returned as an art form.  They then slowly evolved into today’s growing international “Craft Cocktails” Movement. In this environment,  micro distilleries have flourished, as have the Fee Brothers and their products. To answer the international, and now domestic, demand for new and creative drinks, the Fee Brothers have grown their line to include such delicacies as peach, celery, mint, cherry, lemon and rhubarb bitters. Joe calls their products as “the spice rack behind the bar.”

This craft cocktail phenomenon has also given rise to a new career… that of celebrity mixologist, prompting the Fee Brothers to bring in three “shaker jockeys,” as they’re often called, for a 2-part event that will give new meaning to the expression “cocktail party.”

On Tuesday,  March 29 from 12:30 to 3 p.m. celebrity mixologists Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, Simon Ford and Allen Katz will give a Masters Level Class for bartenders on the topic of “International Trends in the Craft Cocktail

Allen Katz, host of "The Cocktail Hour" on Martha Stewart's Radio Station

Movement.” Berry is the world expert on Tiki drinks, Ford is a guru on training bartenders and has opened bars across the globe and Katz is host of The Cocktail Hour, a weekly program on Martha Stewart’s Sirius Satellite Radio.

That evening, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., the public will have the opportunity to hang out with the three cocktail specialists while sampling a variety of showcase cocktails, noshing on “heavy hors d’oeuvres” by Madelines Catering, groovin’ to the music of Club and Radio DJ, Sgt. Pepper, and bidding on a fabulous selection of silent auction items.  Both of these events will take place in the intoxicating surroundings of ARTISANworks, and proceeds will be donated to ARC of Monroe, whose clients hand wrap and label the Fee Brothers’ products.

ARTISANworks is located at 565 Blossom Road, Rochester.  Tickets for the “International Trends in the Craft Cocktail Movement” Master Class are $30. Tickets for the evening extravaganza are $45, and if you would like to attend both events, the fee is $70.  CLICK HERE to purchase tickets or call 1 (800) 961-3337 to order via phone.

For information on ARTISANworks, read the Finger Lakes Travel Maven’s post, “ARTISANworks, an Art Lover’s Treasure Hunt.”


Interested in receiving regular Finger Lakes Travel Maven Posts about activities and events in the Finger Lakes?

The first time I took an Argentine Tango Class at Stepping Out Studio in New York City, I was in love,  not with the instructor – handsome ‘ though he was – but with the dance itself.

The tango is a dance of bravado and machismo, seduction and surrender

This steamy, sultry dance was born in the bars, cafes and brothels on the periphery of Buenos Aires during the late 19th Century. With limited space and unlimited desire, the men and women danced in tight embrace, cheek-to-cheek rather than face-to-face, as was custom at the time. A sensual couple’s dance arose in popularity, eventually emigrating to Europe and North America, despite its “disreputable” beginnings.  Unlike many dances, men often practiced the dance together to perfect their moves and styling, a tradition that continues to be incorporated today. In another departure from traditional ballroom dance, the woman often determines the pace of some moves and is expected to add embellishments.

The tango is a complex dance that mixes movements of bravado and machismo with those of seduction and surrender.  Its music can be completely instrumental, typically composed around the sounds of the accordion-like bandoneón, or it can also be accompanied by vocals thick with tales of love, lust and intrigue, lost love and the darker side of life.

On Sunday, March 13, Nazareth College Arts Center brings  Tango Buenos Aires to its stage at the Callahan Theater. This program was created for the “Jazmines” festival at the famous Buenos Aires cabaret “Michelangelo.” Entwining dance and music, solos, duets and ensemble numbers, the troupe of dancers and musicians presents a sophisticated tale of deluded love.

In a recent review in the Star Ledger, following the performance at the Bergen Performing Arts Center, dance critic Robert Johnson declares, “Seducing us at every turn, Tango Buenos Aires is irresistible.”

I, for one, am ready to be seduced.

Tickets for Tango Buenos Aires are $30 to $60, and are for sale online and at the box office of the Nazareth College Arts Center, located at 4245 East Avenue, Rochester.

Photo courtesy of Nazareth College Arts Center and Tango Buenos Aires.

When I lived in New York, one of the men I worked with raised orchids. His orchids had their own room, he loved them so much. He assured me most varieties were not difficult to raise.

Many varieties will be on display at Sonnenberg's Annual Orchid Show

When I walk past these lovely flowers in a florist or at Wegmans, I’m always tempted to try my hand at raising one, in spite of having  what I call ‘a purple thumb.’

If you, like I, are attracted to orchids, you’ll want to put Sonnenberg Garden’s Annual Orchid Show on your calendar. This show will be in bloom within Sonnenberg’ Garden’s historic Lord & Burnham greenhouse complex Friday, March 4 through Sunday, March 6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.  You’ll delight in a wide array of these exotic blooms, including Phalaenopsis, Paphiopedilums, colorful Cattleyas and Cymbidiums and delicate Dendrobiums and more.

The show will also offer you the opportunity to take a seminar on orchid care Saturday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., and on Sunday at 2 p.m. Orchid growers, including Joe Kunisch of Bloomfield Orchids of Pittsford, will be on hand throughout the weekend to answer your questions. A variety of orchids will be on sale in the Sonnenberg Gift Shop.

On Friday, Sonnenberg Garden’s Executive Director and horticultural expert David Hutchings will be on hand to re-pot your plants for a donation.  And while at the show, be sure to stop by Sonnenberg’s Gift Shop, where you can enjoy a wine tasting, served from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

Admission to the Annual Orchid Show is $5 and goes to benefit Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. For more information, visit Sonnenberg Gardens’ website or call (585) 394-4922.

Sonnenberg Gardens is located at 151 Charlotte Street in Canandaigua.

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