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The Lilac Festival could be in for some changes.

The festival has been produced by Jim LeBeau’s company for more than a decade. (LeBeau has been around so long, he and county officials couldn’t tell me offhand the exact number of years he’s produced the festival.)

LeBeau’s contract is up. The county put out an obligatory Request for Proposals on behalf of Lilac Festival Incorporated, a joint venture of the city, county and visitors association. Even though he’s a Friend of Maggie, I’m not so sure LeBeau is a sure thing. From the 13WHAM News story I did:

LeBeau told 13WHAM News he plans to submit another proposal.

Monroe County Parks Director Larry Staub said, despite LeBeau’s close ties with the county, he is not a shoo-in to get the contract. “We are looking for fresh ideas and energy. This is very exciting.”

If LeBeau does get the contract, he’ll have to address issues raised by an LFI survey. Younger people, families and new visitors are looking for a more diverse array of music, food and vendors. They’re put off by huge crowds, parking hassles and bad weather. (I’m not sure what anyone can do about Mother Nature.)

Neighborhood groups are put off by commercialism and carnival-like atmosphere. They think the flowers should be the main attraction.

Proposals are due on Monday.



Lilac Sunday, 1922

Facts about Lilac Festival:

  • Highland Park was founded in 1888 when nurserymen George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry donated 20 acres to the city.
  • Frederick Law Olmstead designed the park.
  • Horticulturist John Dunbar donated the first lilac bushes in 1892.
  • The first Lilac Festival was an informal gathering of 3,000 people on a Sunday in May in 1898.
  • The Lilac Queen was added in 1930.
  • Lilac Sunday became the 10-day Lilac Festival in the late 1970s.
  • Today there are more than 1,200 lilac bushes with 500 varieties over Highland Park’s 155 acres.

Lilac Queen Candidates, 1930

Lilac Queen Parade







Links of the Day:

– The Western New York Flash are part of a new women’s professional soccer league. Great news!

– Just to be clear, the DEC says there’s no such thing as Big Foot.

– Tops’ profits were hurt by the availability of generic drugs.

– A beautiful Albany area church is slated to be knocked down for a Price Chopper.

– People got naked at a San Francisco council meeting banning nudity.

– Al’s Stand is closing!

7 Responses to Lilac Festival Changes?

  1. November 21, 2012 at 5:21 pm JR Teeter responds:

    I would like to see the focus on local organizations, community groups, etc. The Lilac Festival should be a showroom for all things Rochester. Many of the vendors are from outside the area and local vendors, musicians and artists have a hard time being part of the fest.

  2. The DEC is wrong.

  3. O boy….what’s going on here. Another entertainment event in the city being looked at. Let’s add them up; Pro basketball to the dome, RBTL to the burbs, East End Fest going down, and now the Lilac Festval. What’s up?.??? I don’t even have a guess. My only thoughts are that someone is feeling empowered to start changing things from how they were to how they are NOW going to be. Who is that person???

  4. November 21, 2012 at 10:40 pm Ginny Maier responds:

    Sad on the St. Patrick’s story. Hard to know if the building is salvageable, but depressing to think such a beautiful piece of architecture will be replaced by a steel box store.

  5. November 22, 2012 at 9:23 am RaChaCha responds:

    Whatever Staub does, he better make sure one can still get an authentic Garbage Plate at the Lilac Fest — don’t mess with a good…mess!

  6. Wow oaj don’t let you’re anti city prejudice be too obvious. Highland park is on the outskirts of the city and ran by the county, not the city. The razorsharks shouldn’t be called pro and I doubt the absence of their 50 fans will be noticed. RBTL is just saber rattling, arnie is mad he can’t raise any money for the theater and the city won’t subsidize it. The only issue east end fest has is uppity neighbors and city council didn’t realize the repercussions of the changes they proposed. Must be a slow news week

  7. Facts are facts. Where there’s smoke there’s fire. Don’t cloud your judgement from the facts that are actually occurring. Money, politics and power are always in play. I will wait and see what develops. I will admit I believe the city is corrupt. I also believe it is unsafe. I also believe it does not welcome or treat all people equally. I also believe it will never improve unless it is acknowledged that these issues do indeed exist. I grew up in the city. It used to be a nice place. It still can.

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