Finger Lakes, NY Travel

Rochester's High Falls, once the cradle of the region's industry, now the cradle of a green movement

The High Falls district is a wonderful historic area of downtown Rochester that has long struggled for an identity.  During the 17th and 18th Century, it was the cradle of Rochester’s industry as the mighty Genesee River was funneled off into Brown’s Race, powering gristmills that led to Rochester being christened  the “Flour City.” Soon, other businesses cropped up around the gristmills, such as one of the world’s largest button factories, the Eastman Kodak Company and the Genesee Brewing Company. Click here for the history  and a walking tour of the High Falls and Historic Brown’s Race District.

In recent years, the district no longer had the same high traffic it once did, and excluding a recent attempt to turn it into an entertainment district, it has lain fallow, waiting for the right opportunity to flourish.  Recent endeavors to renovate buildings there and turn them into mixed-use complexes offer encouragement that this will be one of Rochester’s next growth districts.

One visionary company that has seen the possibilities of this district is the Philipson Group, a  marketing, design and  event planning group that is the driving force behind the upcoming Greentopia Festival taking place on September 17-18 in the High Falls District.  This will be an event unlike any other you’ve attended because of its focus on ecology, sustainability and environmental best practices. This event will also become  a “launchpad” for a new initiative to transform the Pont de Rennes Bridge into a suspended arboretum and park. “GardenAerial,” its prospective name, will be designed to encourage foot and bike traffic, showcasing the district’s history and its beautiful 96′ urban waterfall.

It is exciting how many organizations have gotten behind and are partnering on this initiative, demonstrating this region’s commitment to the environment.

There’ll be an exciting lineup of speakers both days.  Saturday will feature an array of Eco Quick-Talks, and on Sunday, keynoters Ed Begley Jr., Actor and Activist (live via Skype), Bill McKibben, Author, Educator and Environmentalist, Paul Watson, Animal Rights Activist and Conservationist (via skype), Patrick Cullina, V.P. of Horticulture and Park Operations (via skype) and Michael Cooper, Civil Engineer at Bergmann Associates will share insights. During the afternoon on Sunday, a variety of enviro-mentor panels gather speakers discussing green topics and issues.  All  speakers are encouraged to use a “TedTalks” style of fast-paced engaging presentation and the topics cover everything from waste reduction, urban living, health and wellness and alternative energy to green homes and more.

Attendees are also invited to “Bike the Bridges” on Saturday, September 17 from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. for a scenic tour of the area (be sure to see brochure and to sign waiver), and there’ll be plenty of music (more than a dozen groups will be performing), food (including culinary demonstrations by local chefs on the use of regional products) , kids’ activities, exhibitions and vending of consumer-oriented green products and technologies, and a showcase of alternative fuel low-emissions vehicles.

This event is free and open to the public and takes place in the High Falls Historic Browns Race District of Rochester.

I hope you’re as excited about this event as I am and I look forward to seeing you there.

P.S. If you’re there on Sunday, September 18, I’ll be participating on an enviro-mentor panel from 4 to 5 p.m. in the main room at the Center at High Falls.  The topic I’ll be covering will be “Sustainable Finger Lakes: The Greening of a Tourism Treasure.”  Check out my “video postcard” that will be part of the presentation and that offers a snapshot of a longer piece I’m working on that will include interviews and more tourism-oriented businesses.

Photo and text copyright 2011©Carol White Llewellyn.


"Down Time" for Silver Ball Tournament Players

Professional baseball was born in New York City in 1845 when members of the Knickerbocker Base Ball* Club formed and began formalizing the rules of the sport.  The game  has changed, along with its rules, uniforms and etiquette since those early days, but true baseball aficionados can see the game played in its original 19th Century form at Genesee Country Village & Museum‘s premier vintage baseball park.  Each year, a dozen teams from across the northeast gather in Mumford, NY to play the three-day round robin-style National Silver Ball Tournament.

In 2011, the tournament takes place from Friday, August 5 through Sunday, August 7 at Genesee Country Village & Museum, located at 1410 Flint Hill Road in Mumford.  Spectators can catch the games between between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.  Major Event Admission rates apply: Adult $16, Youth 4-16 $10, Seniors 62+ or students with ID $13, children under 3 admitted free.

If this article was of interest, you may also enjoy the Travel Maven’s 2009 Article on Genesee Country Village, the National Silver Ball Tournament and Laura Ingalls Wilder Day.

For more on Vintage Baseball, visit the Vintage Base Ball Association’s website.

*Baseball was originally written as two words.

Photo and text copyright 2011 © Carol White Llewellyn.

Ganondagan's Annual Festival commemorates its dedication as a Historic Site

On July 23 and 24, Ganondagan State Historic Site will hold its 20th Annual Dance & Music Festival.

Jeanatte Miller, Friends of Ganondagan Executive Director looks back at this annual celebration that started with one modest tent under which a storyteller, Iroquois dancers and a demonstration or two entertained attendees. The festival began in 1991 to celebrate the July 14, 1987 dedication of Ganondagan as a State Historic Site.

“In the beginning, we had Iroquois Social and Pow Wow dancers. As the festival grew, we decided to change things up each year,” shared Jeanette, who heads the separate non-profit organization that supports the Historic Site’s educational initiatives and handles its events and marketing.

“Although we still focused on Iroquois culture, we began adding performances by other indigenous people,” she explained.

For example, in 1995 a group of Maori dancers introduced attendees to traditional dance and music from New Zealand.  Since then, Ganondagan has welcomed Aztec Dancers, the Dinah Tah Navajo dancers,  Hawaiian Dancers and even dancers and musicians from France performing traditional Basque numbers.  Each year, the Buffalo Creek and Ganondagan Spirit Dancers pack the tent with attendees who love watching the dynamic Iroquois social and pow wow dancing.

Grammy and Nammy Award Winner Joanne Shenandoah Headlines the 2011 Festival
Video courtesy of LinkTV, Joanne Shenandoah and Youtube.

Native music is integral to the festival as well, and over the years, attendees have been treated to both contemporary groups and more traditional performers.  This year, Ganondagan welcomes Grammy and Native American Music Award Winner , Joanne Sheandoah who has performed at The Parliament of the Worlds Religions, The White House, Carnegie Hall and three Presidential Inaugurations.

In addition to Native Dance and Music, Ganondagan hosts a Native Arts Market.  For collectors of Native art, names like Peter B. Jones, Tammy Tarbell, Tom Huff and Michael Galban are an enormous draw.  Many of the artists, some of whom come from as far away as Arizona and New Mexico, do demonstrations in their booths. The quality of the work shown and sold at the festival is on a par with that found at the Santa Fe Indian Market.

My daughters and our visitors from China enjoyed making corn husk dolls

So, what else is there to do at the Festival? Plenty! For music lovers, the Family Drum Jam offers an opportunity to try Native drumming, and award-winning Native flute maker William Harjo will teach a Native flute workshop (bring your own or buy one at the festival).  If you enjoy crafts, the Wegman’s Family Discovery Area offers hands-on activities for kids that focus on transforming recyclable products into fun crafts.  Throughout the festival, demonstrations provide a fascinating look at Native handwork and culture today. Scheduled demonstrations include an historic archery demonstration by Michael Galban, Pottery Making by Peter B. Jones, one on Ancient Tools by Mike Tarbell and Water Drum Making by Bill Crouse Sr. At workshops on both days, attendees can make classic Native arts such as corn husk dolls.  Be sure to register early for these popular activities that usually sell out. (Note: there is an additional fee for the Native crafts workshops).  Another great way to explore the history of the Native people who lived in this region is to join storytellers Perry Ground and Barbara Bethmann Mahooty who bring Iroquois tales to life, or to take a tour of Ganondagan trails and longhouse, given by expert trail guides and site interpreters.  Culinary adventurers can even try such Native delicacies as fry bread, bear and venison sausage, but less exotic foods are also available for purchase.

Ganondagan’s 20th Annual Native American Dance & Music Festival will take place on July 23 & 24 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Ganondagan State Historic Site, located at 1488 State Route 444 in Victor.  There is free parking and shuttle service from Fireman’s Field, off of Maple Avenue in Victor, NY.  Simply follow festival signs from Route 96 in Victor.  The admission fee is Adults $12, Seniors $10, Students (18+ with ID) $7, Children 3-18 $5, Children under 3 Free.  Friends of Ganondagan Members are free with current membership card.  Become a Friends on Ganondagan Member at the festival and you’ll receive free admission.

Note: Sign interpretation is offered for free at this festival and golf carts make the entire event accessible to those who have disabilities or difficulty walking.

For more about this event, take a look at this slide video I created for last year’s event, but please note that this year’s dates are Saturday, July 23 and Sunday, July 24.

Photos and text in article copyright 2011 © Carol White Llewellyn. All rights reserved.

When I was a kid, my Mom’s side of the family often camped on the shores of Lake Ontario.  A day trip to Hamlin Beach State Park brought back a flood of memories… paint-by-numbers and laughter under a tarp as rain drizzled all around us, s’mores and ghost stories by the campfire, sand

My daughters mastermind their moat

castles decorated with shells and pebbles….  So, join me on our trip to Hamlin Beach State Park.

Last Friday was one of those sparkling summer days that delight me to have returned to the Finger Lakes.  My daughters and I gathered beach stuff and headed west on Lake Ontario State Parkway, a wonderfully scenic route that is part of the Great Lake Seaway Trail.

Visiting the Park:

When we arrived at the park, a cheerful gate attendant greeted us and we paid the admission fee. The vehicle entrance fee for the park from mid-May to mid-June and from mid-September-Columbus Day is $6 per car.  From mid-June to Labor Day, it’s $7 per car.  For Non-Profit Buses it’s $35 and for Commercial Buses it is $75.  There is no additional beach fee, and for 2011, the beaches are open June 18 through September 5.

Who doesn't love a snack at the beach?!

We headed to one of the two areas open for swimming.  As I unpacked the picnic lunch, my daughters began masterminding their moat to surround us.  It turns out we could also have purchased goodies at a  snack bars or brought food to grill and eat in the nearby picnic groves. I noticed how attentive the life guards were, and I loved the fact that playgrounds were so close to the beach and picnic area.

As a side note, parents or grandparents should be advised that kids will want shorts or pants on (rather than swimwear) when going down the slides – they’re the vintage metal “hot seat” super fast slides!  Several volleyball nets were set up along the beach and further up the beach, a basketball court stood ready for a game.  I understand that tennis courts are also available.

Hamlin Beach State Park is a biker's haven

The beaches were clean and the water was warmer than we expected, considering the relatively cool weather we’ve had this summer. The swim bathhouses have restrooms, changing and shower facilities and a limited number of lockers.  The beach was fairly empty for such a glorious day, but I’ve heard that it can be bustling on beautiful weekend days.


Scenic vistas and wildlife abound

Swimming is allowed only when Lifeguards are on duty at guarded beach areas from Thursday to Sunday,  11 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. (bathhouse closes at 6 p.m.).

Hikers and nature lovers will enjoy Yanty Creek and the Yanty Creek Nature Trail, where I saw a large bird take loft that  may have been a heron.

Everywhere throughout the park, dozens of bicyclists who’d brought their bikes were enjoying leisurely rides on roads they had to share with very few other vehicles, but I understand that there are also dedicated biking trails.  Boat launch areas and a fishing pier make it easy for boaters and fisherfolks to enjoy their favorite pastimes!

In the winter, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing area also allowed.

Camping Information:

Luke reserves campers sites in a wall map

On our way out of the park, we stopped by the camping office and spoke with Luke and Ann, who were welcoming campers, carefully covering park rules and offering helpful directions and advice.

“It’s pretty busy for a non-holiday weekend,” Ann shared as she jotted down the pricing for me while Luke pegged another campsite as full on the wall-size map of the park.

There are currently 264 camp sites on five loops where tents & RVs are allowed on the wooded and generously-spaced sites that offer electricity.  Some sites are fairly open – great for groups camping

Ann welcomes campers to Hamlin Beach State Park

Ann welcomes campers to Hamlin Beach State Park

together – and others are surrounded by trees, offering more privacy.  Bathhouses are situated close to most sites and the camp store provides the convenience of a laundry.  A rec center is adjacent to the camp store.

We ran into Tricia and Terrance, who have been camping at Hamlin for a number of years. This year, they brought their spirited one year old pup, Cosmo. “It’s a great place to camp and it’s usually pretty quiet,” Tricia shared.  ” When we first came here, they only allowed pets in two of the six loops.  Now, campers can have pets in A, B and C too.”

Tricia loves that Cosmo can camp with her!

Campers are allowed a maximum of 2 pets per site, pets must be kept on a leash of 6′ or less and certificate of current rabies shots is required.  This pertains to the pets of visiting guests as well.

Camping is available from May 14 through October 11, 2011 and the fees are $21/night/site for Sunday through Thursday nights and $25/night/site for Friday and Saturday.  Out-of-state residents pay an extra $5.  Ann was kind enough to clarify that there is an additional one-time fee of $7  to park a second car on the camp site  and a third car would incur a $7 per night fee.

About pavilion rental, events and weddings in the park:

Beautifully rustic shelters offer affordable options for special events and weddings

For those looking for a place to hold a reunion, special event or a wedding, Hamlin Beach State Park has five beautifully rustic shelters that run from $50-$65 for the open shelters and $80 to $110 for the closed pavilions.  The one we saw had a stone fireplace inside and the porch outside had one with three grills. The pavilion was filled with well-tended picnic tables.  Weddings in any of the pavilions can be booked in the Park Office next to area #2 or by calling the Parks Manager during normal business hours between Tuesday and Saturday at (585) 964-2462, who will go over all details of holding a wedding in the park.

The campsites are wooded, well-spaced and have picnic tables, grills and electricity

Hamlin Beach State Park is located at 1 Camp Road in Hamlin, NY.  For those whose GPS does not recognize the address (mine did not), simply take Ontario State Parkway to the Hamlin Beach exit and follow the signs.  GPS coordinates are Latitude 43.355236 Longitude -77.946754.

Whether you stay a day or a week, Hamlin Beach State Park is a great family outing!

P.S. For those who enjoy historic re-enactment, there will be a Civil War Re-enactment at Hamlin Beach State Park from August 19 – August 21, 2011.  CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

All photos and text copyright 2011 © Carol White Llewellyn. All rights reserved.

Fanny and Her Father shared a close relationship

William H. Seward lived part of his life in the Finger Lakes region and was secretary of State to Abraham Lincoln.  His daughter Fanny was an aspiring writer whose diaries have given rich insights into her father’s and her family’s life in and outside the public eye.  We even know that one of her father’s favorite party drink was Roman Punch, shared here, thanks to an article contributed by the Seward House’s former Executive Director, Peter Wisbey.

The Seward House, located at 33 South Street in Auburn, NY is open Year ’round, Tuesday through Saturday 10 am – 4 pm. It is closed Mondays and major holidays and also during the entire month of January. Admission is Adults $8, AAA/Senior Citizens/Military $7, Students with ID $5,Children under 6 and Circle of Friends Free.

Photo is in the public domain.

Wherever you go, whatever you do, I wish you a safe and Happy July 4th!

The museum documents great moments in aviation history, such as Curtiss' July 4, 1908 flight

On  July 4, 1908, Glenn H. Curtiss piloted his plane, the “June Bug” across Pleasant Valley a distance of 5,090 feet – 1,810 feet farther than required to win the first leg of the acclaimed Scientific American trophy. This was the first officially-recognized, pre-announced and publicly-observed flight in America.The next year, he won the trophy by flying his plane, the “Golden Flyer” a distance of 24.7 miles to establish a new world distance record.  A replica of the plane can be found at the museum.

The Glenn H. Curtis Museum is  located at 8419 Route 54 in Hammondsport , NY. It’s open May through October, Monday – Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. From November through April it is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.  Admission is Adults $7.50, Seniors (65 and over)$7.50, Students (7-18)$4.50, Children (6 & under) and Members Free. They also offer a family rate of $20/family an adult group rate of $5/adult and a student group rate of $2.50/student.

Click here for the Travel Maven’s post on the museum with narrated slide video.

This reproduction of "The June Bug" actually flies!

Father’s Day was just around the corner and I was stumped on a gift for my husband.  He’s not a big fan of receiving clothes as gifts, and his habit of simply buying the things he wants left the “Dad gift list” pretty empty.  Suddenly, I recalled a friend’s recommendation of the Glenn H. Curtiss Aviation Museum in Hammondsport, NY.

Glenn Hammond Curtiss became a local “speed prodigy” while in his teens when he began designing, building and racing bicycles.  By the time he was 24 years old, his bicycle company was well-known for producing bikes under the brand name of “Hercules,” and he used his mechanical prowess to add engines to the bikes, creating some of this country’s early motorcycles.  In 1907, he added a V-8 engine to a bike and was tracked at 136 m.p.h., bestowing on him the name of “The fastest man on earth.”  His exploits in speed attracted the notice of the early adventurers in aviation, including Thomas Scott Baldwin, who hired him to add a V-twin engine to his “lighter-than-air” dirigible.  Curtiss joined the Aerial Experiment Association and was working elbow-to-elbow with visionaries, such as Alexander Graham Bell, who saw the promising future of aviation.

Watch this short narrated slide show to get a snapshot of this amazing man’s life and a peep at one of the region’s truly fascinating museums:

At the museum, we get a peek at the life and times of an amazing man from Hammondsport

The Glenn H. Curtiss Museum is fittingly housed in what resembles an enormous airplane hanger.  Not only does the museum celebrate the man and display his many achievements …bicycles, motorcycles, early airplanes and seaplanes, WWI fighting planes, RV trailers… it also shows how his creations influenced society (he was the first to train female pilots) and history. Through photos, personal items and historic memorabilia, we get a look at the times and life of Glenn H. Curtiss, the fastest man on earth.

The Glenn H. Curtis Museum is  located at 8419 Route 54 in Hammondsport at the south end of Keuka Lake (GPS coordinates: 42.235548N 77.135839W). It’s open May through October, Monday – Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. From November through April it is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is closed Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.  The fee for admission is Adults $7.50, Seniors (65 and over)$7.50, Students (7-18)$4.50, Children (6 & under) and Members Free. They also offer a family rate of $20/family an adult group rate of $5/adult and a student group rate of $2.50/student.  If you’re wondering whether to take your children or grandchildren, most kids will be enthralled!

P.S.  We all had a blast and between the trip to the museum and lunch on the terrace of “The Switz,” (The Switzerland Inn Restaurant) overlooking Keuka Lake, I think he’d say it was one of his best Father’s Days ever!

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