Rochester, 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.

A red Ford Falcon is on the shopping block

Now here’s an amazing warehouse sale collectors of art, antiques and vintage cars won’t want to miss!

ARTISANworks is holding its 1st Annual Warehouse Sale, on Saturday July 30 and Sunday July 31 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  On the shopping block are… a Paul Knoblauch Enamel Painted Metal and Wood Seat Art Bench, a vintage Ford Falcon, a 1997 Jaguar, a motor powered 4 seater mini surry, a stained glass window, a Beefeater statue and hundreds of pieces of framed artwork.

Here's your chance to own a mini-surry

The warehouse sale is being run by All Things Antiques and will take place  in the warehouse to the left of ARTISANWorks main location at 565 Blossom Rd Near North Winton Rd. Just look for signs!

Just had to share this wonderful video called “Build Myself” that my friend, Debra Ross of Kids Out and About created to feature the many activities (over 60 shown in the video!)  in and around Rochester that can be done with your children or grandchildren.  The music was written and performed by Mark Asch, a member of the kids’ rock group, Starfish, that performed here in Rochester recently.

My daughters and I had a blast helping her shoot the scene at Highland Park during the Rochester International Lilac Festival where the balloons get to fly free.  Great job, Deb!

Be sure to check out Debra’s website for other wonderful ideas of things to do with children!  You can also subscribe to her newsletter for a weekly update of giveaways, news and  things happening in the Rochester area.

On Saturday, when we attended the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, we meandered into Rochester Contemporary Art Center (ROCA) which was displaying their 6x6x2011: Global exhibit.

ROCA's walls host over 4000 pieces of art

Over 4000 pieces of art adorn ROCA's walls during 6x6x2011

This exhibit – now its 4th Annual – is not only fun, it’s a brilliant fundraiser for ROCA. Each May 1, artists from around the world deluge ROCA with their work, created in a 6″ x 6″ format.  This year, over 4000 pieces were received from 36 countries and all 50 states creating an irresistible montage of work that runs floor to ceiling along the enormous expanse of ROCA’s wall. The works run the gamut of media … 3D, animé, cartoon, digital, oil, pen & ink, quilting, stained glass, watercolor and any other you can imagine. All are donated by celebrities, international and local artists, designers, college students and youth.

What makes this exhibit so unique is that the price  – a mere $20 per piece – allows anyone can to become an art collector.  The work is displayed anonymously, so you won’t know whose you’ve purchased until you plunk down payment, get a red dot to reserve your piece and turn in the work’s number for the artist info sheet.  The seduction factor to own a piece is very high, especially when you see the enormous selection, including works that look suspiciously like the style of an artist whose work you think you recognize.

In my case, I purchased an Asian-inspired piece called “Childhood Memory” by  local artist Ning Su. The information sheet on the work my daughters selected, was mysteriously marked “anonymous,” but the work  looked like it had been drawn by one of their favorite animé artists. You never know!

The 6x6x2011: Global exhibit runs through July 10, 2011 at Rochester Contemporary, and works can be purchased at the Gallery or Online, and the work can be picked up at the gallery between July 10 and July 12 or mailed to you for an additional $5.  The Rochester Contemporary Art Center is located at 137 East Avenue between Scio and Gibbs Street in Rochester and is open Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is $1 for Non-members and free for Members.

P.S. Don’t forget to vote for your favorite pieces online! The artists that come in first, second and third place win cash prizes.

Photo by Carol White Llewellyn.  Copyright 2011 © Carol White Llewellyn.  All rights reserved.

Chris Botti

Last night, my husband and I went to dance class – we do ballroom dancing – and another couple there asked if we were going to the Jazz fest, meaning the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival.

“Wouldn’t miss it!”

They mentioned that they’ve had the club pass for the past five years and we talked about how early the Jazz Fest Club Pass sold out this year…in early April, as I recall.

This is the tenth anniversary of the Jazz Festival. It takes a lot of perseverance, patience and business acumen to cultivate a festival. To the credit of all involved, including the partners, sponsors and especially Marc Ioconna and John Nugent, this festival has not only thrived, but has grown and flourished, even over the past couple of lean years.  It does far more

Natalie Cole

than contribute to the economy, although it certainly does that.  At a time when the arts and many cultural institutions are at risk, it is a “tangible” reminder of what music, and the arts in general, contribute to society — yes, economic stability, but more importantly, quality of life. 

Congratulations Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival on your 10th Anniversary…and here’s to many more!

Even if you don’t have a Club Pass, even if you don’t think you like jazz music, GO!  As Marc and John have often said, the jazz festival is designed so the diverse artist lineup offers something for everyone at both the paid and free venues!  The Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival runs from Friday, June 10 through Saturday, June 18 and is a not-to-be-missed event.

CNY Jazz Orchestra

All photos, courtesy of Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival.

The beauty of High Falls surrounds you at these lunch hour concerts

Cudos to the High Falls Business Association, Hochstein School of Music & Dance and WXXI for teaming up to bring a lunch hour music performance to the historic High Falls Browns Race section of Rochester.  This program will be presented on Thursdays during the summer, beginning at 12:15 p.m. at Granite Mills Park.   To check out the lineup of stellar performers, click on the links below.

Please note: The map below has several locations pinpointed, but the park is located on Platt Street and Browns Race.


Friday was a beautiful day for the start of Rochester’s Lilac Festival.  I saw many people carrying lilacs back to their cars and I plan to pick up several myself when I return to the festival on Tuesday as a bus tour guide.

Festival locations to purchase lilacs


If you’re thinking of planting lilacs this year, or you’re looking for a good source for other plants and expert information, you can find it all at the festival.  The Cornell Cooperative Extension has a tent set up outside their building located on Highland Avenue, as well as a larger tent set up behind their building.  There you can find lilacs as well as a large variety of beautiful and healthy other plants and flowers for purchase.  Master Gardeners are available on site to answer your questions.  All of the plants have been cultivated by the gardeners and proceeds go to support the Master Gardeners’ Program.

There are many ivaldifferent varieties of lilacs available for purchase at the fest

Just outside Lamberton Conservatory in Highland Park, you’ll find a tent set up with a wide variety of lilacs for purchase.  When I was there on Friday, I had the good fortune to speak with Kent Millham, Horticultural Aide for Monroe County’s Department of Parks. Kent is responsible for caring for the lilacs in the park and also works designing and caring for the seasonal exhibits at Lamberton Conservatory.  He is well known among lilac lovers because he edits to journal of the International Lilac Society.

In case you’re coming in from out of town and wish to purchase lilacs that will thrive in southern states, be sure to take Doc Lilac’s list of lilacs for warmer climates.  If you can’t get them at the festival, you can order them directly from Doc Lilac.

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