Rochester, N.Y. – There could be changes in store for Rochester’s oldest and most popular festival.
Through Monroe County, Lilac Festival Incorporated put out a Request for Proposals for a new producer. LFI is a joint venture of the city, county and Visit Rochester. The festival drew more than 400,000 people to Highland Park over 10 days in May.
Jim Lebeau’s company Beau Productions, has put on the festival for more than a decade. His contract is up. LeBeau told 13WHAM News he plans to submit another proposal.
Monroe County Parks Director Larry Staub said, despite LeBeau’s close ties with the county, he is not a shoo-in to get the contract. “We are looking for fresh ideas and energy. This is very exciting.”
LFI did a survey and found the following are important to festival-goers: weather, crowds, parking and a need for diverse offerings. Younger people and families want more diverse food options, arts and crafts vendors and entertainment.
“There’s nothing that makes you be like, ‘Ooh let’s go to the Lilac Festival this year!’” said Mona Kaur.
“I would change maybe the music that was there. I feel like it attracts maybe the older people,” said Sonya Seetharam.
“People shouldn’t be able to bring their dogs,” said Bethany Gizzi. “It gets very crowded and it gets difficult when you’ve got small kids.”
The survey found a feeling there are too many “other” sellers at the festival.
“There are a few cell phone companies that seem to be taking a lot of the spots,” said Nick Wolcott, who attends the festival every other year.
People who live in the Highland Park neighborhood feel the festival has gotten too “carnival-like.”
“It has just gotten more and more commercial,” said Pat de Keyserling. “It’s a circus and we’ve gotten away from the tradition, a 100 year tradition of trying to admire the collection.”
LFI says prospective producers can include Lilac Festival staples such as the races, parade and pageant, but also offer up new ideas.
Proposals for the 2013 Lilac Festival are due on Monday.