Rochester’s 2015 Lilac Festival, Best Ever?

The 117th annual edition of Rochester’s Lilac Festival was nothing short of a resounding success. Blessed by near perfect weather, a killer musical lineup, and actual flowers in bloom for once – it was a far cry from the past few years that were plagued by rain and unseasonably cold temperatures.


The Lilac Festival always has all the typical amenities one would expect in a festival atmosphere – beer tents, kid activities, face painting, fake tatts, deep fried freaking everything, and of course, the ubiquitous barricaded off 100 person deep line for kettle corn. Seriously, do they sprinkle crack on that stuff or what?

However, what makes Lilac Fest truly special are the little extras. The giant food tent filled with local vendors offering everything from “Bacon Bomb” sandwiches to Rochester’s own heartburn special – The Garbage Plate. The brand new “big top” tent that offered a string of activities throughout the week including a wine and chocolate tasting and a brew fest. The weekend based arts and crafts exhibit that moved a block over to Reservoir Drive this year – a great idea that truly helped the traffic patterns. And of course, lots of lilacs!

This years music lineup, brought to you by the Springut Group, had a little bit of everything from country to reggae to bluegrass to good old shreddy rock and roll. Monday brought in a (too) rare appearance from Pennsylvania’s Dr Dog. Wednesday’s headliner, Blues Traveler, seemingly had the biggest crowd in Lilac Fest history with a virtual sea of people watching harmonica master Jon Popper giving them the “Run Around.”

Friday brought Austin’s Mingo Fishtrap back to town for their third visit in the past year. The last day featured one of Rochester’s hottest up and coming bands – Danielle Ponder & The Tomorrow People. Like a musical super hero, Danielle is a lawyer by day and a stunning soul singer by night. Surrounding herself with some of the areas best musicians, The Tomorrow People are started to grab some huge crowds and will continue to grow.

Sunday’s festival closer, Ana Popavic, seemed to be unknown to most I spoke to that day, but will now be implanted in their brains as the sexy lady in the red dress who also happens to be a female master of the blues. This girl simply melted every face on the lawn ending a close to perfect week with mouths agape.

Props to this years organizers and all who put together such an amazing free time for the good people of Rochester. NYSMusic will be back next year – check out several photo galleries from the week below.

Adam Ezra, Dr Dog and Lilacs

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Davina and the Vagabonds, Blues Traveler

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Mingo Fishtrap

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Danielle Ponder & The Tomorrow People, Ana Popavic

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