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.