Lilac Festival moves from free outdoor to paid indoor live music for this year’s event

Around Town

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Lilac Festival is coming to Highland Park this year, but it will look a lot different from years past as COVID-19 has forced organizers to cut back on some traditional events.

While the excitement is still there, there are also concerns that the changes are leaving some out, ad for many in Rochester, the Lilac Festival is a family tradition.

“My dad use to bring his mother here back in the 1930’s and I guess its a tradition we’ve kept up. I have brought my family here every year,” said Tom Mcmanis, a Rochester native.

After missing last year due to COVID-19, the 123rd Lilac Festival is back for 2021 with new safety precautions. The festival will take place over three weekends starting May 7th, a change from years past.

For many, shorter festival days isn’t a problem.

“Doing the best they can just glad that they’re doing it and finding a safe way to do it cause I think people just enjoy coming out and doing it whether its restricted or not,” said Mathew Pavlis.

The festival will have the traditional Art in the Park, marathon fundraisers and the craft beer & wine expos.

However, there won’t be as many food vendors and the live music events will be held in a indoor tent due to state guidelines.

Table tickets for these events are over $100 and this is concerning to Monroe County legislator Rachel Barnhart (D-21).

“So I think in our effort to be really safe we’ve probably made some missteps. Not the fault of the local officials and the promoters. Its really the fault of the state and federal governments,” said Barnhart. “We should have been encouraging the lilac festival to be a different festival then the one we’ve seen in the past, but the way they structured it this time, it’s rather exclusive.”

Even with the changes, tickets are going fast, most sold out at last check and people are still excited for the chance to get a somewhat normal festival.

“I really liked the outdoor events because we a lot of times would bring our dogs and come sit over here and we could still hear it so I don’t know if that would be possible if it’s indoor but I’d I would still be interested in the indoor events I think we just have to plan a little better,” said Lydia Mcclure, who plans to go this year.

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