Gay Pride Fest comes to the Finger Lakes

Thursday, May 28, 2015 10:53 AM by Karen Miltner

Ever since the very first Gay Pride March in New York City in 1970, pride celebrations has been known as an urban phenomenon, with people flocking to larger cities to celebrate with parades, festivals, music, shows and other activities.

But gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and gender-questioning folks lives everywhere, from small towns and rural communities to the suburbs and large metropolitan areas.

Geneva resident Amy Hickey knows this as well as anyone, and she wanted to create a way for the Finger Lakes LGBTQ community to celebrate right at home, rather than traveling to Rochester, New York City or some other larger metropolitan region.

When you live in and love a really wonderful place such as Ontario County (specifically speaking) and the Finger Lakes (regionally speaking), you assume you know just about everything you need to know to be a good tour guide.

But when 61 curious and savvy travel writers descend on your turf, which is exactly what happened May 5-10 when the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection hosted the Midwest Travel Writers Association Conference, questions come up that sometimes make you scratch your head and run for the Internet. Or dictionary. Or some kind of reliable fountain of facts.

To the seekers of FLX knowledge, we now have answers! A few, anyway. 

So, you want my job?

Monday, May 18, 2015 1:35 PM by Valerie Knoblauch

Most days at my job as president of the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection, I earn a grade of F. 

And that’s a good thing. 

Why? Because, as it should be tourism is fun, fulfilling, and full of new friends. That’s a lot of f-words --- and people still want my job.

As a six-year resident of Ontario County and the Finger Lakes, I often marvel at the things I do right here at home that make me feel like I’m on vacation. On the top of that list is going to one of the Smith Club Series Concerts, a special ongoing project of The Smith Center for the Arts in Geneva. 

The Smith, as everyone around here calls it, is a celebrated historic theater in downtown Geneva with 1,400 seats. The Smith Club Series aims for more intimate shows, so the concert planners book smaller venues in and around Geneva, sometimes capping ticket sales at 75 or 100.

These concerts are really special; my husband and I make a point to attend as many as we can.

Earth Day (April 22) came with two bits of great news this week, both of which center around Hemlock-Canadice State Forest, one of the most pristine and “forever wild” places in the Finger Lakes. No development is allowed here.

First, a longtime resident of the town of Canadice in Ontario County sold 165 acres to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, so now the forest encompasses almost 6,900 acres.

It’s wedding season, and the Finger Lakes has become a destination for many couples who will be tying the knot.

In fact, the cover story for the April issue of Rochester Magazine says the past decade has been full of a lot more “I do’s” in the Finger Lakes by couples who traveled as far as California, Arizona Oklahoma and Florida. Even destination wedding central, Hawaii, has sent us brides and grooms who opted for gentle lakes over tropical lava as the backdrop for their special day.

There are so many picture-pretty spots in Ontario County for nuptial photos that I could never list them all here. But I was curious about the more unusual locales, so I checked in with two Ontario County photographers, Jan Regan and Steve Chesler, for their suggestions.

National Beer Day in the Finger Lakes

Tuesday, April 7, 2015 4:35 PM by Karen Miltner

A question you often ask yourself as the afternoon is getting on in the Finger Lakes is this: Is it beer o’clock yet?

April 7 is one of those days when beer o’clock is around the clock. In other words, Happy National Beer Day.

The holiday is not just marketing blitz, but marks a genuine historical celebration to mark the end of Prohibition. The Cullen-Harris Act, which legalized beer sales, was passed by Congress on March 21, 1933, and signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on March 22, 1933. Thirsty beer drinkers had to wait until April 7 for the law to go on tap.

The Finger Lakes are home to some of the greatest state parks in the nation. For the people who live in the region, we know this to be true. USA Today confirmed our insider’s knowledge with the announcement this week of the top 10 state parks in the ENTIRE United States of America. American voters have designated Letchworth State Park as the #1 in the US. And as if that wasn't enough, Watkins Glen State Park came in at #3! 

Finger Lakes Visitors Connection would like to extend our congratulations to our friends in Livingston and Wyoming Counties, home to the "Grand Canyon of the East", Letchworth State Park. Kudos to our friends in Schuyler County, home to Watkins Glen State Park, the oldest state park in the Finger Lakes region.

NYS Maple Weekends - March 21 & 22 and March 28 & 29!

Spring is in the air and that means the NYS Maple Weekends are here! Looking for the best place to exercise your taste buds? Well, you’re in luck! Here is an Insider’s guide to all of the “Maple” events happening in Ontario County. The action begins on Saturday, March 21 & Sunday, March 22 and continues Saturday, March 28 & Sunday, March 29.

Come on, Ithaca, we thought you were tougher than that?!  I guess we’re just built a little hardier here in Ontario County.  I’m sure we can find some extra mittens for anyone in Tompkins County afraid to go out in a little snow.  Maybe you can use the white flag that's been waving as a scarf?

Of course, we're just having a little fun here with our good friends in Ithaca because we so appreciate their sense of humor regarding how to deal with this winter that seems to want to go on and on. We also know that all of us here in the Finger Lakes share wonderful winter assets that are worth bragging about - even as the snow is piling up and the temperature wants to hover around...brrrrrr degrees.