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Rochester Lilac Festival announces changes including fencing, checkpoints


In order to make a more secure and better defined festival area, Monroe County Parks will install a fence around this year's Rochester Lilac Festival, organizers announced Monday morning. The green, plastic mesh fencing will be installed around the event's entertainment area in Highland Park for the duration of the festival, which will run May 9-18.

The fence, a first for the festival, will include five entrance points staffed by security, and there will be a Rochester Police Department and Monroe County Sheriff presence. The fence will only be around the entertainment area, with the Lilac Gardens still open.

Map showing the five entrances into the upcoming Rochester Lilac Festival. - PHOTO PROVIDED BY MONROE COUNTY PARKS
  • Photo provided by Monroe County Parks
  • Map showing the five entrances into the upcoming Rochester Lilac Festival.

"We still consider this to be the safest festival in Monroe County," said Larry Staub, Monroe County Parks director during a press conference.

Security will check bags and IDs at the entrance points -- checking IDs at these central locations and using bracelets will also make it quicker for of-age festival-goers to obtain alcohol at bars inside the festival grounds, Staub added.

The addition of fencing comes in the wake of safety concerns following last year's Lilac Festival. Multiple fights broke out near the festival on Saturday, May 18, 2013, leading to 16 arrests and two officers being injured. The fights occurred in near-by neighborhoods with no occurrences on park grounds and no interruptions to the festival itself.

Staub said, with the use of professional security staff, the festival hopes the entrance points will be quick and smooth. The checkpoints will also reinforce the festival's "No Pets" rule.

"We've been talking about [a fence] for several years. And a few of the incidents from last year made us revisit it," Staub said. "It seemed like the right time ... We think it's a positive step we can take, without going to a ticketed kind of event, that will have the impact of increasing public safety and providing an enjoyable experience for families to come down and have fun."

Organizers also announced an attempt to break a Guinness World Record the first day of the festival, Friday, May 9, with an event being referred to as Passion for Purple. The Lilac Festival hopes to form the world's largest "human flower" by attempting to organize more than 2,200 people into the shape of a lilac. The record is currently held by University Church of England Academy in Ellesmere Port, England, which formed a poppy with 2,190 people in 2012.

The record-breaking attempt will be made at 12:30 p.m. at the Lilac Center Stage in Highland Park.

Those interested in participating can register as individuals, a team, or company at Registration is not required and walk-ups are welcome.

"This will be the biggest kickoff event in the history of the Rochester Lilac Festival," said Festival Producer Jeff Springut. "All the record-breaking moment will be recorded and photographed from the air by a helicopter, so everyone will be able to see Rochester's Passion for Purple and the spirit that makes this community such a great place."

The Rochester Lilac Festival will take place May 9-18 at Highland Park. Admission to the festival is free. Each day will begin at 10:30 a.m. Headliners performing at the Lilac Center Stage include: Duke Jupiter on Friday, May 9; The Skycoasters on Saturday, May 10; Rubblebucket on Sunday, May 11; Classic Albums Live - "Dark Side of the Moon" on Tuesday, May 13; The Infamous Stringdusters on Wednesday, May 14; Keller Williams on Wednesday May 14; Rusted Root on Thursday, May 15; The Original Wailers on Saturday, May 17; and Eddie Money on Sunday, May 18. A headliner for Friday, May 16, is yet to be announced.

More information can be found at

This story was updated with new information on April 7