Day 4: Lilac Festival

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Ahh, the Lilac Festival! The official start of spring. A time to walk through the trails of Highland Park in rapt amazement at the resilience of nature after a particularly harsh winter. An opportunity to rejoice in Rochester’s legacy as the “Flower City.” An occasion for — oh, who am I kidding? Lilacs make me sneeze, and honestly, when you’ve seen one lilac bush, you’ve seen them all. But the weather was warm (mostly), the fried dough was plentiful, and the Root was Rusted. Seriously, what is the deal with Rochester and Rusted Root? At least they still sound good, unlike some of the other former stars who have graced the Lilac Fest stage. *cougheddiemoneycough*

I made it to the Lilac Fest three times this year. Once on Saturday, when it was nearly 90 degrees and I was wildly overdressed, and once on Tuesday, when it was nearly 50 degrees and I was wildly underdressed. I then discovered that eating fried dough while wearing dark clothes in a windy environment is a bad idea. I did not make it into the expensive all you can drink beer tent, but the craft beer tent out by the lilac arches had a much better selection than last year. I’d really like to see more food trucks at the festival, but aside from that, the food selection was also pretty good. I also liked how the vendors were moved up by the reservoir, as it seemed to get more people out into the park to explore.

Finally, I went back on Thursday to see Rusted Root with my dad. As you can see below, so did half of Rochester. UR missed out on the chance to make some cash, because everyone started parking on the lawn of the abandoned psych center. (There’s a joke somewhere in there about how crazy we all are for loving Rusted Root, I KNOW IT.) Despite the fact that there was no one directing traffic, everyone politely directed themselves into neat rows of cars. I was strangely proud. Good show of being nice and orderly when no one made you, guys. We managed to slide into the perfect spot at the top of the crowd just as “Send Me On My Way” started playing. I have now filled my Rusted Root quota for the next five years, and my fried dough quota until Canal Days.

 

Day 3: Gelato and a sunset on the canal in Fairport

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Nothing fancy for day 3, just a quick trip after dinner. I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to get many items from my list done last week, because the weather was kind of cold and rainy and all the other unseasonable weirdness that accompanies the Lilac Fest. But luckily, last Monday as I got home from work, the clouds started to break and the sky blue itself. I was in the mood for a treat, so I went to the village of Fairport with my parents for some dessert. If you’ve never been to Royal Cafe, I highly recommend checking it out. The owner is a little Italian guy, and the gelato is handmade. It’s probably about as close to the real deal as you can get without crossing the Atlantic. As we wandered along the canal, the sun made an actual real appearance, and we ended up catching a pretty nice sunset.

Day 2: Fahsye and Fairport Brewing Company

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On Friday, I realized that Mother’s Day was only two days away and I needed to get a gift, which, honestly, was probably a new record for me in terms of planning ahead for presents. Since my dad had already laid claim to buying an Alex and Ani bracelet, I had to think of something else. (Sidebar: Dudes, if you never know what to get the ladies in your life, get them into Alex and Ani, and then you will never have to think about gifts again. It’s the best.) I decided to head to my new favorite boutique, Fahsye. They’re located on the corner of Winton and Blossom, and have nice, quality jewelry that won’t turn your fingers green, but isn’t exorbitantly expensive. Plus, the owner is super nice and remembers who you are, which in my opinion is one of the best parts of shopping local.

While picking up a bracelet for my mom, I couldn’t help but get one of Fahsye’s newest additions to their ROC Jewelry collection. I own about four different pieces from this now, and I get endless compliments on them. Even my brother, who is a tax lawyer and never notices anything unless it’s a poorly written contract or something like that, commented on how cool the city skyline necklace is.

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After Fahsye, I met up with my parents for dinner at Jeremiah’s (mmmm, Buffalo wings), and then we headed over to the Fairport Brewing Company in the village of Fairport. FBC has a cool success story: with the help of a Kickstarter campaign and the support of the community, they were able to grow from the owner’s basement into a full-fledged brewery with a tasting room on Main Street. They have a huge outdoor patio, and frankly, are a welcome relief from the Irish pubs and townie bars that were previously the only place to have “fun” in Fairport. (Oh, and Applebee’s. I guess technically you could have a night out in Perinton at Applebee’s…if you hated yourself.) They also have several fire pits on the patio, which we weren’t able to sit around because we didn’t get there early enough…but it was 90 degrees out, so they weren’t on anyways. Next nice cool evening we have, I’m gonna get there at 4pm and camp.

I tried their Irish red and nut brown ales, and they were both great. My dad had a few of the pale ale varieties and said that he wished they were a bit hoppier, but I think he’d drink a straight glass of hops if he could get away with it, so take that as you will. There was also a food truck there, which I didn’t try, but I like the concept of being able to go back and try different food trucks throughout the summer. This particular night had live entertainment, which I’ll confess I’m not always a fan of. I hate when you’re trying to have a drink with friends and suddenly some band is playing so loud you can’t hear anyone talk. However, the outdoor patio at FBC is the perfect venue for music (and not just because they have a noise ordinance in Fairport so they can’t play too loudly). The guys who played on Friday, Mike Gladstone and Rob Smith, were fantastic, and provided a great soundtrack to a relaxing evening.

Day 1: CITY Newspaper’s Best Busker Contest

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I was technically going to kick this whole thing off by going to the Lilac Festival. As the official start of festival season and summer, it felt like a good place to start my 100 days project. But, when life hands you buy one get one free lemons with free entertainment, plans change. Last night, I hit up CITY Newspaper’s 6th Annual Best Busker Contest, where street musicians perform to win guitar pick votes, and several bars and restaurants along East and Alexander offer food and drink specials throughout the night. This was my first time going, so I was very excited to check it out!

If I’m being 100% honest, we did a lot more eating and drinking than we did checking out the buskers. I walked over after work with my friend Kristen and we were both hungry, so we decided to hit up Havana Cabana and Ox and Stone before their specials ended. I ordered a blue fruity drink from Havana Cabana, thinking, “How strong can some blue fruity drink be?!” The answer is VERY. Also, very delicious. We did get a chance to take in some of the performances as we walked down East, and they were all fantastic. Of course, I’m the person in a crowd who claps half a beat off from everyone else, so I’m not the best barometer for musical talent. Although we didn’t get the chance to vote for any buskers, I ran into a few friends I hadn’t seen in a very long time, so I don’t regret lingering over the food. Despite being a Thursday, there was a fair crowd outside on the patio at Victoire, where we ended the night with pomme frites and some beers.

I’d also like to give a shoutout to the Mark Groening Gallery, who lent us a roll of duct tape when Kristen’s sandal snapped halfway down the street on the condition that we browse the gallery. His blown glass stuff is really cool, and he was willing to help us out so Kristen didn’t have to limp like a zombie back to the car.

 

100 Days of Rochester

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The winter of 2015 was, in meteorological terms, “fucking miserable,” and has left me feeling slightly like a prisoner finally starting to emerge from a severe case of Stockholm Syndrome. (I took the snowbrush out of my car last Sunday. Baby steps!) But now, seemingly overnight, the trees have exploded into being. My friends have (mostly) stopped threatening to move to California. I have to start shaving my legs again. We’re almost upon the most glorious time of year in Rochester: festival food season summer!

After the awful winter we had, I have a feeling it’s going to be a great summer. The city really comes alive when the weather is nice, and I think most of us are going to spend as much time as possible enjoying the summer weather and events. So in that spirit, I came up with a list of 100 things to do in Rochester:

Festivals

  • Lilac Festival
  • Canal Days
  • East End Music Festival
  • Corn Hill Arts Festival
  • Park Avenue Summer Art Festival
  • Clothesline Festival
  • Fringe Festival
  • Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival
  • Sterling Renaissance Festival
  • Rochester Real Beer Week
  • Casa Larga Purple Foot Festival
  • New York State Festival of Balloons

Food and Drink

  • Get a plate at the original Nick Tahou’s
  • Compare BBQ at Sticky Lips and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
  • Public Market Food Truck Rodeo
  • Tour the Genesee Brewery, then grab a meal at the Genesee Brew House
  • Get Abbott’s at the original location on Ontario Beach
  • Have a pint and some chips at The Old Toad
  • Try the Cuban sandwiches at Georgie’s Cafe
  • Tour and tasting at Black Button Distilling
  • Grab a coffee at Java’s
  • Eat at Jay’s Diner…but only if it’s after midnight
  • Shop at Hart’s Grocers
  • Eat at Dogtown
  • Explore the South Wedge (I’ve been meaning to check out Butapub…)
  • Meatballs and cider at Skylark Lounge
  • Eat all you can eat at the Thali of India lunch buffet
  • Munch on Tapas at MAG
  • Enjoy the outdoor fire pits at Fairport Brewing Company
  • Have some gelato along the canal in Fairport
  • Take in the sunset and drinks at Hedges
  • Sip some wine at Flight Wine Bar
  • See if Lux really does have free pizza…
  • Even more coffee at Jembetat
  • Take in some art with dinner and drinks at Village Gate
  • Yet more coffee at Joe Bean
  • You can never get enough coffee at Pour Coffee
  • Eat every meal at a Wegmans location by eating off the breakfast hot foods bar, having lunch at the Burger Bar, and dinner at Next Door Bar and Grill
  • Get your Belgian beer buzz on at Victoire
  • Check out dollar oyster Tuesdays at Lento
  • Try the extremely strong margaritas at Maria’s
  • Dinner and/or drinks at The Revelry
  • Pretend to eat healthy at The Owl House
  • Have a beachy drink at Marge’s
  • Be an adult in a candy story at Stevers
  • Pretend you’re in college again at Insomnia Cookies

Rochester Art & History and Day Trips

  • Find Susan B. Anthony/Frederick Douglass’ graves in Mt. Hope Cemetery
  • Letchworth
  • Niagara Falls
  • Finger Lakes
  • High Falls
  • Genesee Valley Park
  • George Eastman House
  • Rochester Museum and Science Center
  • Strasenburgh Planetarium
  • Memorial Art Gallery
  • Strong Museum of Play
  • Susan B. Anthony House
  • Check out a book at the Rundel Library
  • ZooBrew at the Seneca Park Zoo
  • Genesee Country Village and Museum
  • Corning Museum of Glass
  • Stroll the ArtWALK in NOTA
  • See a movie at the Little
  • See a movie at the Dryden Theatre
  • See a concert at Eastman Theatre
  • Visit a Saturday Public Market
  • See a movie at The Cinema, then grab milkshakes at the Highland Park Diner
  • ARTISANworks
  • Rochester Contemporary Art Center’s 6×6 exhibition
  • Explore the on-campus art galleries at RIT
  • Explore the on-campus art galleries at UR
  • Sonnenburg Gardens
  • Take a cruise on the Sam Patch
  • Take a cruise on the Colonial belle
  • See a show at Geva Theatre
  • See an RPO show
  • Attend a Young Urban Preservationists/Landmark Society event
  • Visit a First Friday at the Hungerford or Anderson Alley
  • Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse
  • Explore Highland Park and the Lamberton Conservatory
  • Cobbs Hill Park
  • Get lost in the Pittsford Wegmans
  • Webster Park

Activities

  • Seabreeze
  • Darien Lake
  • Whispering Pines mini golf
  • Take a class at the Rochester Brainery
  • Jump at SkyZone
  • See some raptors at Wild Wings sanctuary in Mendon Ponds Park
  • Feed the fish and see the Mushroom House in Powder Mills Park
  • Play Frisbee Golf in Ellison park
  • Destroy your friends at go karts
  • Get destroyed by your friends at Laser Tag
  • Take a yoga class from a local studio
  • Go shopping along Park Avenue
  • Survive a rainy day at Eastview Mall
  • Go hiking in Fairport, a.k.a. Trail Town USA
  • Take a class at Rochester Parkour

Entertainment

  • Get your quiz on at bar trivia
  • See a Roc City Roller Derby show
  • See a movie at the drive-in
  • Party in the Park
  • Watch the city’s 4th of July fireworks
  • Check out some local talent at an open Mic night
  • Red Wings Game
  • Rhinos Game
  • Buffalo Bills Training Camp
  • Partake in some nightlife at East & Alexander

Now, this list is nowhere near exhaustive. It’s just a list of things that I think would be fun to do in Rochester to make the most of this summer (which is why the food and drink related section is the longest). But that’s just the thing: anyone can make a list of things to do in Rochester. You don’t even have to be in Rochester or know anything about us or even be accurate! *coughcoughMovoto.comcough* I could sit here right now and make a BuzzFeed list of “20 Forests You Absolutely Need to Fart in Before You Die,” but I’m still just sitting in front of my computer screen instead of seeing any of these breathtakingly smelly trees.

So this is not just a list. It is my Summer Manifesto. Between the Lilac Fest and the Fringe Fest, with the help of family and any friends who want to join in for the ride, I’ll be attempting to experience every single item on this list. If you took the time to count things up, you’ll notice there’s actually more than 100 things. If there’s anything life has taught me so far, it’s that shit happens. There may be an event I miss for some reason, but I still hope to complete at least 100 items from the list, if not more. I’ll be posting about my adventures here and on Instagram and Twitter @akachela, using the hashtag #100DaysOfRoc. I hope you’ll join me by following along, checking off a few items on the list yourself, or even trying to take on the challenge!