Rochester offers a bounty of special events each summer season, which unofficially kicks off with the Rochester Lilac Festival. The festivals are a big part of the quality of life throughout the region, and it seems everyone has a favorite.
As we enter the summer season, the festival season really heats up—even if the weather does not always do the same. The Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival taking place this week is one of the biggest attractions.
This week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll asks readers to name their favorite summer event.
The Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival was the top choice among participants in this week’s poll. It garnered one-quarter of the total votes, nearly triple the runner-up, New York State Wine Festival (previously Finger Lakes Riesling Festival). The Park Ave Summer Art Fest ranked third.
The jazz festival’s popularity is not new—it has ranked No. 1 in previous polls on the subject as well, a total of four polls dating back to 2008.
In an August 2008 poll, some 19 percent selected the Jazz Festival as their favorite. In that survey, 15 percent chose the Lilac Festival and 13 percent picked the Park Ave Fest.
More than 500 participated in this week’s poll conducted on June 27 and 28.
If you could attend just one special event each summer season, which would you choose?
Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival 25%
New York State Wine Festival (previously Finger Lakes Riesling Festival) 9%
Park Ave Summer Art Fest 9%
Corn Hill Arts Festival 8.6%
Fairport Canal Days 7%
Rochester Lilac Festival 6%
M&T Bank Clothesline Festival 5%
Fairport Music Festival 4.5%
KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival 4%
Naples Grape Festival 3%
The Jazz Fest has clearly become our biggest crowd pleaser. This expertly executed event lasting 10 days draws an international crowd that makes Rochester shine. I love being a part of it; I love that it’s part of our community.
– Laurie Sagona, Sundance Marketing
It’s a tough choice but I like Fairport because it’s on the canal and so beautiful. A close second and third are Jazz Festival and Lilac Festival.
– Margaret Serafine, Residential Management Services
Hands down, the jazz fest. There are no security issues; that’s partly because the crowd is more mature and polished. The attendees are happy and cheerful and they say “Excuse me” when they walk by. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event!
– Rich Calabrese, Rochester
For festival fun, a good time, good food and great people, I would choose St. Mary’s Festival at St. Mary’s Church in Canandaigua, last weekend in August. If I want to go to one real art festival this year, it would be the Ann Arbor Art Fest, Ann Arbor, Mich., (with) 1,200+ real juried artists, real skilled artisans that have perfected their craft—no hobbyists or “from a box crafters.” The waiting lists for artists to show is about five years. Art you only see occasionally around here; e.g., the small Art Fest at Sonnenberg Gardens in Canandaigua, usually the last weekend in August, or the Naples Open Studio Trail, usually the first weekend in October. The Trail varies from year to year, so one is not always looking at the same artists, and takes one around the Naples, Bristol, Honeoye, Canandaigua and other surrounding areas in the Finger Lakes. Worthwhile drive with the fall foliage!
– B. Moser
I always look forward to Park Ave Fest, as I grew up going and would miss it greatly if it ever went away, but continue to be more interested in the Xerox Jazz Fest and what artists are coming. The festival has really put Rochester on the music map. Would love to see it be more of a refined music fest with interesting headliner acts and smaller up-and-coming indie music of all genres. Either way, hard to go wrong with some live jazz on a nice summer day.
– Keith Newcomer
For those of us that love live music, the two days of the Fairport Music Festival are the best two days of summer. With both local and national bands, it really showcases the rich music heritage of the Rochester area.
– John Midolo, Penfield
By raising funds for local charities such as 13thirty Cancer Connect, Camp Good Days and Christopher’s Challenge, the Rochester Greek Festival is a wonderful way to enjoy Greek culture while also supporting our community.
– Peter J. Gregory, Rochester
The Memorial Art Gallery’s Clothesline Art Festival held each September in support of art and culture in our community. It is also a great support to our many fabulous Rochester artists. To many it signifies the end of the summer festival season. The community is very fortunate to have such a wonderful collection!
– Mary Lorei
My choice: LeRoy Oatka Fest.
– Jim Nielsen
I am not sure about the timing of all of these festivals but it seems to me that our Lilac Festival is an outlier. “Summer season” is measured by many of us as the period of time between Memorial Day and Labor Day, though it is technically between June 21-Sept. 22. Lilac Fest kicks off the second weekend in May.
– Holly Anderson
Stupid survey. Thirty diverse enjoyable events I am sure. What is the purpose? Each is important to their volunteers and supporters that work hard to make them successful.
– J. Crowley, Fairport
This is a remarkable list. What a remarkable place to live!
– Jay Ross
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