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The 2003 LilacFestival 

Once again, the blooming has begun among the 22 acres of lilac bushes in Highland Park. Enter the Lilac Festival, Rochester's oldest and largest festival, held this year from Friday, May 9, through Sunday, May 18, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. A half-million people will descend on the park, and there'll be enough food, drink, music, and stuff for sale to fill 10 purple-hazed days. (And don't forget the "other" lilac festival: the Lilac Time Committee's day-long celebration on Saturday, May 17. We'll preview that in next week's City.) Admission is free. For more info: 546-3070, 546-8484 (TTY),

Lilac Festival activities

Opening Day Ceremonies Fri, May 9. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performs on the Lilac Stage at 10:30 a.m. Ceremonies begin at noon.

Lilac Home and Garden Show Fri and Sat, May 9 and 10. Items for decoration, home improvement, gardening, and gifts, at the Big Top Tent, near the corner of Highland and South Aves. Fri noon-8 p.m.; Sat 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

Master Gardener Plant Sale Fri and Sat, May 9 and 10.Flowers, vegetables, herbs, shrubs, trees, Cooperative Extension, 249 Highland Ave, Fri noon-4 p.m., Sat 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

R NEWS Lilac Parade Sat, May 10. More than 100 entries and 20 marching bands. Starts on Science Parkway, corner Mt. Hope and South Aves., at 10:30 a.m.

Silver Base Ball Sat, May 10. Demonstration game by the Genesee Country Village & Museum's 19th century "base ball" program. At the overlook off Reservoir Ave, at 1 p.m.

The Discover U Psychic Fair for the Mind, Body & Soul Sat and Sun, May 10 and 11.Psychics, palm readers, healers, metaphysical gifts, and more, at the Cornell Cooperative Extension Auditorium, from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. 256-1960.

Arts & Crafts Show Sat and Sun, May 10 and 11. Over 100 exhibitors, hand-made gifts and crafts. On South Ave, just south of Highland Ave. Sat 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Wine, Jazz 'N More Thurs, May 15. Wine tastings and food sampling, featuring vino from 12 New York wineries. At the Big Top Tent, near the corner of Highland and South Aves, from 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

Lilac Search for the Stars Fri-Sun, May 16-18. Competitions for junior singer, adult singer, comic, and male and female model. At the Big Top Tent, near the corner of Highland and South Aves. Fri 5-8 p.m., Sat 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun 1-5 p.m.

Art in the Park Sat and Sun, May 17 and 18. One hundred artists display their work and compete for prizes. At the corner of South and Highland Aves, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Montana Mills Lilac 10K Sun, May 18. Starts at Highland Ave, at 9 a.m.

Children's Pavilion Exhibit Mon, May 12-Sun, May 18. Photos and a scale model of the former Ellwanger and Barry Children's Pavilion. At the Lower Gatehouse, Reservoir Rd. Mon-Thurs 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4-6 p.m., Fri and Sat 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Rochester Civic Garden Center 5 Castle Park. Located in the historic Warner Castle and grounds, the center features a gift shop and an art show. A silent auction takes place May 9-18 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Free. 473-5130.

Lamberton Conservatory Greenhouse located at the corner of South and Reservoir Avenues. Open 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m. daily.

On stage

The music at this year's festival runs the gamut from concert-band fare to alternative rock to blues. Most of the concerts are free, on the ESL Lilac Stage, near the corner of Highland and South Avenues. An added bonus this year: the return of music in the Highland Bowl --- a day of blues headlined by George Thorogood.

            The full schedule of musical performances follows.

Friday, May 9

ESL Lilac Stage

10:30 a.m. Oliver Middle School Band

11:15 a.m. Oliver Middle School Chorus

noon Opening Ceremonies

12:30 p.m. School #12 Band

1:30 p.m. Grace Band

5 p.m. Bird Circuit

6 p.m. Twin-A Featuring John Lardieri

7 p.m. Sarah Slean

Saturday, May 10

ESL Lilac Stage

12:30 p.m. Sons of Pitches

2 p.m. Riverside Drive

3:30 p.m. Power Company

5 p.m. Brass Taxi

6:30 p.m. The Skycoasters

Sunday, May 11

ESL Lilac Stage

10:30 a.m. Allison Wiener Strings

11 a.m. Stealing Andy

noon 98th Div Army Jazz Band*

1:30 p.m. Me & the Boyz

3 p.m. Spanky Haschmann

5 p.m. The Buddahood

6:30pm The Subdudes

Monday, May 12

ESL Lilac Stage

10:30 a.m. Schroeder 9th Grade

11 a.m. Top Brass

11:30 p.m. Hilltop Singers

1 p.m. East High School Gospel Choir

3:30 p.m. Diocese Select Concert Band

4:30 p.m. SOTA Singers

5:30 p.m. Marshall High School (Urban Steel Band)

6:30 p.m. SNMNMNM

Tuesday, May 13

ESL Lilac Stage

10:30 a.m. Churchville Chili

11 a.m. Gananda Middle School 7th & 8th Grade Band

11:45 a.m. Greece Olympia Orchestra

12:30 p.m. Frederick Douglass Middle School

1:30 p.m. Greece Olympia Jazz Band

5 p.m. Prime Time Funk

6:30 p.m. Campbell Brothers

Wednesday, May 14

ESL Lilac Stage, music for Lilacs 'n Seniors Day

11 a.m. Spry 8th Grade

11:30 a.m. Spry 8th Grade

noon Hochstein Senior Chorus, featuring members of the Webster Senior Singers, the Sweden Senior Chorus, and the Gates-Chili Chorus.

1:15 p.m. Oasis Tappers

5 p.m. Swamp Padres

6:30 p.m. Eastman Youth Orchestra

Thursday, May 15

ESL Lilac Stage

10:30 a.m. Spry Middle School 6th GradeBand

11:30 a.m. Nathaniel Rochester Band

noon Gates Chili Middle School 7th GradeBand

12:45 p.m. Gates Chili Middle School Symphony

1 p.m. Northstar Christian Academy

3 p.m. The Bill Tiberio Group

5 p.m. Gamalon

6:30 p.m. Nancy Kelly with Joe Romano

Friday, May 16

ESL Lilac Stage

10:30 a.m. Spry Middle School 7th GradeBand

11:30 a.m. Brockport

12:15 p.m. Paul Rd. Band & Chorus

1:15 p.m. Churchville Chili 6th #1

1:40 p.m. Churchville Chili 6th #2

5 p.m. Atlas

6:30 p.m. Southside Johnny

Saturday, May 17

ESL Lilac Stage

10 a.m. Pendel Brass & Singers

11:15 a.m. Athena Show Choir

12:30 p.m. Ciara Lynn

2 p.m. The Heyseeds

3:30 p.m. Double Cross

5 p.m. Josie Waverly with JB & Company

6:30 p.m. Craig Morgan

Sunday, May 18

ESL Lilac Stage

10 a.m. 10K Awards Ceremony

noon Brad Batz Group

1:30 pm Unlimited

3 p.m. Sometimes Three

4:30 p.m. Long Live Rock n Roll

6:30 p.m. Martha Reeves

Highland Bowl,Bowl Full of Blues

12:30 p.m. Space Trucker

2 p.m. Coupe DeVilles

3:30 p.m. Tom Hambridge

5-7 p.m. George Thorogood

Highland Bowl all-day tix: $8 in advance; $10 at gate; free for kids. Tix available at all area ESL Federal Credit Unions, The House of Guitars, The Distillery, both Record Archive locations, and Jillian's.


The Lilacs 'n Kids Zone, located in the area surrounding the Lilac Pavilion, near the corner of Highland and South Avenues (look for the purple arches), is completely devoted to the entertainment of your children. There will be face-painting, inflatable games, and pony rides, magic, juggling, and music. The full schedule of kids' performances on the Lilac Pavilion stage follows.

Friday, May 9

6 p.m. Kidding Around

Saturday, May 10

1 p.m. The Dinner Dogs

2 p.m. Hilby the German Juggle Boy

3 p.m. Chris Wilkinson, The Magic Guy

4 p.m. The Dinner Dogs

5 p.m. Hilby the German Juggle Boy

Sunday, May 11

1 p.m. Tiger Tom Singer and Storyteller

2 p.m. Two: High Energy Juggling

3 p.m. Chris Wilkinson, The Magic Guy

4 p.m. Tiger Tom Singer and Storyteller 

5 p.m. Two: High Energy Juggling

Monday, May 12

12:30 p.m. Kidding Around

6 p.m. Jazzbo the Clown

Tuesday, May 13

12:30 p.m. Chris Wilkinson, The Magic Guy

6 p.m. Kidding Around

Wednesday, May 14

12:30 p.m. Kidding Around

6 p.m. Chris Wilkinson, The Magic Guy

Thursday, May 15

12:30 p.m. Wegmans Zoomobile

6 p.m. Jazzbo the Clown

Friday, May 16

12:30 p.m. Chris Wilkinson, The Magic Guy

6 p.m. Kidding Around

Saturday, May 17

1 p.m. Amadeus Chorale

2 p.m. Tiger Tom Singer and Storyteller 

3 p.m. Chris Wilkinson, The Magic Guy

4 p.m. Wild Wings Birds of Prey

5 p.m. Tiger Tom Singer and Storyteller

Sunday, May 18

1 p.m. The Dinner Dogs

2 p.m. Wild Wings Birds of Prey 

3 p.m. Chris Wilkinson, The Magic Guy

4 p.m. The Dinner Dogs

5 p.m. Jazzbo the Clown


This year's Lilacs 'n SeniorsDay is Wednesday, May 14, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The day features free musical performances by the Spry Middle School 8th Grade Band, the Hochstein Senior Chorus, the Oasis Tappers, and the Eastman Youth Orchestra. Free shuttle tours of the park will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Lunch will be available at 11:15 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Advance reservations for lunch ($4.95) are required. 256-4960.


The International Food Court is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, and offers Middle Eastern, Cajun, Indian, Chinese, Mexican, and Rochesterian (garbage plates). Vendors will also be scattered throughout the park, offering festival culinary standbys: kettle corn, cotton candy, lemonade, fried dough, hots, ice cream, the works. You can buy beer and wine afternoons and evenings in the Wine Garden, next to the Highland/South Stage.


Your best bet is to avoid sidling up to the park via side streets; the festival committee has issued ample warnings that cars parked illegally will be ticketed or towed. Instead, head straight for any of the free, legal parking areas designated for festival-goers.

            On weekends, park at Monroe Community College, 1000 East Henrietta Road (about 2 miles south of Highland Park), and ride one of the continually operated, lift-equipped, free shuttle buses to Highland Park. The buses will run daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., on the day of the parade, Saturday, May 10). (Limited, paid parking is also available in the Goodman Street and Elmwood Avenue lots.)

            On weekdays, limited free parking will be available in two lots: Goodman Street south of Highland Avenue, and Elmwood Avenue east of South Avenue. There is handicapped parking in the Goodman Street and South Avenue handicapped lots, both south of Highland Avenue.

            Or, you can avoid the whole thing and take the bus: RTS provides daily bus service on Routes 5 and 11, including service from the corner of South and Highland Avenues.

Sweet smells, sweet sounds

Lilac Festival music

Rochester's first sign of spring and first chance to hear music outdoors, The Lilac Festival, has an added attraction this year: a concert at the Highland Bowl. That's right, the Bowl is back, baby! The sounds of sweet music will mingle with the sweet smell of lilacs on Sunday, May 18, when "Lonesome" George Thorogood And The Destroyers fill the air with their classic rockin' blues (see interview in next week's City). Also on the bill: Rochester's diesel-powered, 2/4-rockers Space Trucker, Tom Hambridge, and local blues champs The Coupe de Villes.

            For the majority of the week-long fest, The ESL stage --- located on Highland Avenue, near South Avenue --- is where it's at. With a schedule peppered with various school bands and cover bands, this stage offers a lot of choices and no room for excuses --- it's free, for Christ's sake!

            Here are some highlights...

            On Friday, May 9, Rochester alternative rockers The Bird Circuit play brilliantly crafted pop without the sugary aftertaste. WBER-favorite and chick-rocker Sarah Slean closes the evening, sweetly.

            An a cappella group (with the coolest name in the fest), The Sons Of Pitches, open up the stage on Saturday, May 10. It'll be mostly cover-oriented party rock this day, closed by local favorites The Skycoasters.

            Sunday, May 11, is melting-pot day, with new groove-meisters Stealing Andy (emerging from the DMB tribute ashes of Tripping Billies); the big-band bombast of Spanky Haschmann; the swirling, pounding world grooves of The Buddhahood; and New Orleans' swamp-boogie legends The Subdudes.

            Standout shows for Monday, May 12, are the Marshall High School Urban Steele Band and L.A.-by-way-of-Rochester rockers SNMNMNM.

            Local gospel treasures The Campbell Brothers will bring a little sanctified sanity to the festivities when they close the show on Tuesday, May 13.

            Get yer jazz on Thursday, May 15, with The Bill Tiberio Group, Gamalon (note: not Gamelon, the more well-known band), and Nancy Kelly with Joe Romano.

            Among the all-time legends of blue-eyed soul, Southside Johnny And The Asbury Jukes rock out on Friday, May 16. When they played last year at Manhattan Square Park, the enthralled, capacity crowd stayed on its feet for what seemed like hours. Better wear sneakers.

            Country takes the spotlight on Saturday, May 17, with honky-tonk chanteuse Josie Waverly with JB & Company, budding 16-year-old star Ciara Lynn, Double Cross, and Nashville newcomer Craig Morgan.

            Motown legend Martha Reeves will have 'em dancin' in the street when she closes the whole damn thing on Sunday, May 18. See ya there.

--- Frank De Blase

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