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Waterfront Art Festival returns this weekend

26 Jul

Are you familiar with the history of the annual Waterfront Art Festival?

It feels like the festival has been regular Webster summer event for like, forever. But actually, Webster’s only hosted the Waterfront Art Festival since 2015, when organizers had a falling out with their original hosts at the Canandaigua City Pier. When they chose to move it to North Ponds Park in Webster, our community warmly welcomed the event, and it quickly became a summer favorite.

This coming weekend, Saturday and Sunday July 30 and 31, the Waterfront Art Festival returns for its 49th year, to North Ponds Park — now known as Charles Sexton Memorial Park. The festival is a must-see for those who appreciate fine art and quality crafts.

Dozens of artisan booths line the park’s scenic and shaded walkways, displaying an incredible variety of hand-made items in all price ranges. What’s really nice about this particular festival is that all of the artisans’ work is juried beforehand, which is why it’s all so different and high-quality. Plus there are food trucks, live entertainment, demonstrations, a wine, beer and cider-tasting tent, plenty of free parking right on the grounds, and a handicapped parking area. (Click here to see a gallery of photos from last year’s event.)

The festival runs from 10 am to 5 pm Saturday and Sunday July 30 and 31 at Charles Sexton Memorial Park (formerly North Ponds Park), off of Rt. 104 between Rt. 250 and Holt Road (take the Rt. 250 exit off Rt. 104). 

Admission is $5, no charge for kids 12 and under. For more information, including a list of artisans and entertainers, click here for the Waterfront Art Festival website.

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Beautiful music has returned to Harmony Park

16 Jul

After almost two years of not being able to play together at their regular summer gigs at Harmony Park, the Webster Village Band is back together and performing beautiful music again.

Like pretty much everything else, in the last two years the pandemic put a damper on the Village Band’s ability to perform publicly, or even rehearse. Not only were their Thursday evening concerts at the Harmony Park bandshell cancelled entirely, they weren’t even allowed into the schools to hold rehearsals.

Last summer, as the pandemic began to wane, the band was able to rehearse again at the Harmony Park bandshell on Phillips Rd., and towards the end of last year actually had two performances, one at the park and another at the Village of Webster’s 9/11 memorial ceremony.

“When we got together the first time last year, you could tell the people were hungry to play,” said conductor Tom Indiano. “It was an awesome, awesome experience.” 

When they weren’t able to meet, especially over the winter months when they couldn’t hold outdoor rehearsals, “it was difficult,” Indiano said. “People want to play music.” So they did their best to stay busy in other ways, rehearsing at home, having social hours on Zoom, and finding creative ways to continue doing what they love doing most — making music.

Last December, for example, they pulled together a virtual, multi-instrumental performance of Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson, which you can see below.

“We sent out parts,” Indiano remembered, and “everyone did a recording of it.” Then the individual parts were collected and expertly compiled into one seamless performance by one of the band’s members.

The piece was extremely well received, even attracting the attention of Anderson’s family, who thanked the band for the beautiful rendition.

Only a few months ago was the band finally allowed to hold their rehearsals in the schools again. So the season got off to a late start, but the Village Band is definitely back, albeit with a few changes.

Right now, “We’re just trying to get our feet wet,” Indiano said. “There’re some new tunes we’re working on.”

“We lost some people in that two-year span,” he added. “We’re a little smaller, but we’re pretty strong and there’s new blood coming in.”

“The future looks very good.”

The Webster Village Band plays on Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. at Harmony Park, on Phillips Rd., south of Ridge. The next two concerts are Aug. 11 and Aug. 25. They’re free and open to the community. Bring a lawn chair and blanket and your own refreshments, then sit back and enjoy some beautiful music.

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(posted 7/16/2022)

The Carnival is back!

7 Jul

Without a doubt, the highlights of the Webster summer event schedule are the Firemen’s Carnival and the parade that heralds its arrival. And after two very boring, Carnival-less summers, I’m pleased to see that this very popular event is back this year, Wednesday July 13 through Saturday July 16.

The excitement is already beginning. The rides are being set up at Firemen’s Field, and the water barrels staged for the parking lots.

You can check out all the details about what will be happening, and when, at the NEJFD website, but here are some of the highlights:

Wednesday July 13:

  • Craft beer expo
  • The Breakfast Club plays in the Beer Tent
  • games, food, rides

Thursday July 14:

  • Fireman’s Parade begins at 6:30 p.m.
  • North of Forty plays in the Beer Tent
  • Games, food, rides

Friday July 15:

  • State Line plays in the Beer Tent
  • Games, food, rides

Saturday July 16:

  • Kiddie Parade at noon, beginning at Spry Middle School
  • The Magic Guy entertains at the fairgrounds
  • Free kids’ bike and grill drawing
  • Knight Patrol playing in the Beer Tent
  • Fireworks at midnight

Lots more details and regular updates can be found on the Carnival Facebook page.

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(posted 7/7/2022)

Two signs of summer are back

7 Jun

Webster’s two spray parks are now open for the season, at Ridgecrest Park (off of Ebner Drive) and the beautiful, relatively new, First Responders Spray Park near the Webster Recreation Center on Chiyoda Dr.

The First Responders Park (pictured here) is especially fun for kids and families. It’s a firefighter-themed playground and splash pad, with a nearby pavilion. The splash pad has all sorts of water-fun features including a fire hydrant, a dalmatian fountain and fire truck slide.  

The SECOND sign of summer to which I referred is the Joe Obbie Farmers’ Market, which returns to Wewbster Towne Plaza (Target Plaza) this Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m.

If you’ve never been to this market you should start making it a regular Saturday morning stop. Varying with the season, you’ll find baked goods, pies, meats, poultry, goat cheese and goat cheese products, flavored nuts, herbs, spice blends, honey, maple syrup, cider, soap and body care products, plants and cut flowers, jewelry, crafts and of course a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

The market runs from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. every Saturday through October, rain or shine. Check out the Joe Obbie Farmer’s Market website and Facebook page for details.

This year the market is introducing something new as well, “An Evening in the Park.” Every Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m. in July and August the market will also set up at Charles Sexton Memorial Park (formerly North Ponds), between Rt. 250 and Holt Rd. The evenings will feature live music and food trucks as well as the vendors you’ve come to know and love.

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(posted 6/7/2022)

West Webster shines at the Webster Museum this month

9 May

The Webster Museum is highlighting West Webster this month! Here are some quick details about what’s coming up.

There are five brand new exhibits focusing exclusively on the hamlet, with lots of photographs, maps and artifacts. The exhibits can be seen during the museum’s normal operating hours, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 2 to 4:30.

Several additional programs have been scheduled through the next few weeks featuring speakers recalling their memories of growing up in West Webster.

On Wednesday May 11 at noon, Todd cousins Steve Van Buren and Pat Todd Milne will speak. On Sunday May 15, the museum will open at 2 p.m. for visitors to see the exhibits, then at 3 p.m. will host a panel of memory-sharers: Deb Oakley, Peter Burkhardt, Karen McDade, Valerie Fisk Kazarro and Steve Van Buren. Attendees are encouraged to share their memories as well.

Finally, on Wednesday May 18 at noon, the final installment of the History and a Cup series will feature the memories of David Davis and Robert Ryan.

The Webster Museum is located at 18 Lapham Park in the Village of Webster.

Check back Wednesday for news of a fun and educational West Webster Cemetery tour coming up in June, and how you can be a part of it.

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(posted 5/9/2022)

Introducing the Braman Nature Preserve

3 May

Six years ago, from January through December 2016, I took on an ambitious project. I challenged myself to visit 100 east-side parks and walk or bike or run at least a mile of the trails at each one — if there were any.

I called the project my “2016 Tour de Parks,” and I chronicled my journeys in a blog. (It’s still online; if you’re interested, click this link.) My quest was ultimately successful. I notched my last park in early December, and by the time I was done I’d actually visited 102 parks.

So you’d think I’ve seen every park and natural area there is to see in our town. But recently I heard about a nature preserve which lies only a few miles east of my home, and has existed for more than 10 years: the Braman Nature Preserve.

I decided that I should check it out, too. So last Sunday my husband and I headed out to explore it and take a short hike.

The Eva and Harlan Braman Nature Preserve is located at 1775 Ridge Rd., near the Town of Webster’s easternmost border. It’s very easy to drive by (we did, twice). There’s no large sign announcing its existence. But basically, the entrance is just east of Basket Rd., across Ridge from the intersection with Ridge Rd. Junction.

The preserve is comprised of about 60 acres of former farmland, now fields, and about 11 acres of forest. The land was donated to the Genesee Land Trust in 2011 by Laurel Bruns and Gary Braman in honor of their grandparents, Eva and Harlan Braman. About 1.5 miles of grassy trails are regularly mowed into the fields and through the woods.

The hike begins along a path which at this time of year is very muddy and swampy, although the Land Trust workers have tried to mitigate the mess by putting down a rudimentary boardwalk along part of it. That path leads to a large field — which only looks large until you take a second path leading to another field which is probably four times larger.

The main trails generally follow the edges of these two fields, but one does dip into the woods for a bit along Halesworth Lane, so for a while you can admire some very nice residential back yards. Having a trail map is helpful to keep from wandering onto the farmer’s property to the west (because the trails are not particularly well marked). Birdsong filled the air at every step of our hike. There was never a time when I COULDN’T hear 104 traffic and nearby construction vehicles, but the birds managed to drown it out most of the time. It’s a very peaceful hike.

There is a sign at the trailhead which warns that the trails are seasonally wet and muddy. That was an understatement. My sneakers, socks and pants all went into the washer when I got home.

The reason the Braman Preserve crossed my radar is that the Genesee Land Trust would like to create a six-space gravel parking lot at the park’s entrance. I saw an announcement about their plans in a recent Town newsletter.

A parking lot would be a great improvement. Right now the only place to park is along the shoulder of busy Ridge Rd. A parking lot would certainly encourage more nature lovers to discover this beautiful preserve. (It would also be great if the Trust could build a few more boardwalks to traverse the swampiest areas!)

So check it out sometime for yourself, even before they build the parking lot. Just don’t wear any shoes which you can’t afford to get muddy.

Here are a few photos from our hike, and scroll to the bottom to see a trail map.

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(posted 5/3/2022)

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(posted 5/4/2022)

A busy Webster Saturday lies ahead

27 Apr

As I was looking through my “what am I going to blog about next?” notes, I noticed that there are no fewer than FOUR events coming up this weekend — well, Saturday Aril 30, specifically — which I thought I’d better remind you all about.

I’ve already told you about the first four:

Spring Barbecue

St. Martin’s Lutheran Church’s spring chicken BBQ is Saturday, from 4:30 p.m. until they’re sold out.

This is a drive-through event. Dinners will include a half chicken, salt potatoes, cole slaw, roll and butter for $12. There will be no advance sales; cars can pay when they enter the parking lot, first come, first served. Signs will direct cars to the pay station, and then to the side entrance where you can pick up the boxed dinners.

Proceeds will support St. Martin’s Christmas Stocking Project which reaches more than 500 youth in Monroe and Wayne counties.

Cars Along the Creek

The Friends of Webster Trails will be leading a guided hike through Four Mile Creek Preserve on Saturday, and telling you all about the six abandoned cars you can see along the trails. Apparently the land on which the preserve is now located, at the corner of Phillips and Lake roads, used to be used by the local youth as a makeshift racetrack in the early 1960s. Among the cars you’ll see are:

* 1951 Chevrolet Styleine Deluxe Bel Air
* 1961 Ford 500 Galaxy Club Victoria
* 1959 Nash Rambler
* 1959 Chevy Bel Air
* 1954 Plymouth Belvedere Suburban
* 1949 Green Nash Airflyte

The two-hour hike will begin at 10 a.m. at the parking lot on Phillips Rd.

Drug Take-Back

Also on Saturday April 30, the Webster Health and Education Network is holding a Drug Take-Back Event in conjunction with Wegmans, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at both the Holt Rd. and Baytowne locations. No appointment is necessary. Just look for a drop-off location in the parking lot.

Only pills and patches will be accepted, no needles, liquids or sharps.

Shredding Event

The Webster Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Shredding Event on Saturday, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Chamber of Commerce office, 1110 Crosspointe Lane. The event is open to everyone and there’s no quantity limits, but please remove all file folders, binders and plastic bags.

Harmony House concert to benefit Hope House

This last event is something I only learned about a few days ago but it sounds like a lot of fun AND it’s for a good cause.

Five live bands will be coming together at the Harmony House on Saturday from 2 to 8 p.m. for a family-friendly “Spring Harmony Unmasked” concert to benefit Hope House.

The bands — Group Therapy Country Grass Band, Gabrielle Owen, the BarnStrummers, Fragile Ego and Eli & Co. — will play a wide range of music including country, bluegrass, southern rock, pop and more.

Suggested donation at the door is only $5 for a whole afternoon and evening of music, and all proceeds will benefit Hope House of Webster. There will be a cash bar as well. For more information, including more about each band and when each band will be playing, click here.

The Harmony House is located at 58 E. Main Street in the Village of Webster.

And this just in…

I found out that a few local Girl Scout troops will be setting up shop Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. in front of Barry’s Old School Irish to sell their leftover Girl Scout cookies.

This is a great opportunity to stock up again — and perhaps try a new variety — especially if you’re like me and somehow the freezer in the garage was not QUITE far enough away to keep you from eating all of your original batch of cookies.

Barry’s is located at 2 West Main Street in the Village of Webster, right at the village’s four corners.

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Ceremony officially marks renaming of North Ponds Park

24 Apr

Change can be hard. Especially when that change involves something you’ve known your whole life. For that reason, the announcement that the Town of Webster was planning to rename North Ponds Park was for some an unwelcome surprise, leading to the obvious question, “Why?”

I asked that myself when I first learned about the Town’s plans to rename North Ponds Park as the Charles E. Sexton Memorial Park. I’d never heard of Charles Sexton, had no idea how he was connected to Webster or why he was so important that the Town would choose to rename one of our most popular parks in his honor.

Then I started reading more about him and his accomplishments, and I began to understand the impact Charles Sexton had on a professional level. Then, at Friday’s official renaming ceremony, I got to know him on a personal level as well.

The event was held Friday afternoon under very sunny skies, on the cool and breezy shores of North Ponds. About 75 people attended, including friends, current and former Parks and Recreation staff members, government officials and many members of the Sexton family, some of whom had traveled from as far as California and Georgia.

It began with presentations to the family of a Town of Webster proclamation and a New York State Senate resolution, both recognizing Mr. Sexton’s history as Webster’s first Recreation Director, and the first African-American Recreation Director in New York State. His career spanned 34 years, from 1962 until 1996, during which he introduced the town’s first programs for senior citizens and launched the summer youth camps.

But those two resume bullets only scratched the surface of why Charles Sexton was deserving of this honor, and how he helped shape our community’s future.

Three more speakers followed, painting a heartfelt picture of the kind of man Sexton was, during his tenure as Recreation Director and retirement, before he passed in 2021. Sean Torriegano remembered his close friend, saying “No one had a more profoundly positive impact on my life,” adding that he was “one of the most selfless persons I have known.”

He continued,

Mr. Sexton wouldn’t have been comfortable with this, no matter how appropriate we all believe and know this is. It was not his thing. Accolades and recognitions were not what he was about. He would have rather had the names of the families that helped bring about and sustain his vision as a group, not as an individual but as one family.

Penny Soos recalled the two and a half-hour interview she had with Sexton for a receptionist job.

“He talked and he talked and he talked,” she remembered. “And I listened and I listened and I listened.” It was only later she found out the reason he talked so long was to see how well she listened. She got the job.

Retired Town Councilman Barry Deane helped everyone understand why North Ponds Park in particular was chosen to honor Charles Sexton.

There have been many folks over the years in this community who have had impacts, who have helped us become who we are, but I can’t think of anyone who’s had more of an impact than Charles….

(Charles) was a man of great vision. He started a new department from the ground up, and he made many improvements in the community. One of them was this park, which was part of his vision. 

When he started, this park was just a couple of (undeveloped) bodies of water. We inherited this park and over the years we did a lot to improve it. … This was really his baby.

Earlier in the day, at a memorial servce held at Holy Trinity Church, Sr. Barbara referred to Charles Sexton’s legacy as “branches and vines.” Sean Torriegano expanded on that analogy in his remarks. His comments touched me more deeply than any others that afternoon, especially when he shared his opinion about what Mr. Sexton might think about the day’s events.

He’d say,

Hang on to your thank yous, keep your well wishes, signs and ceremonies. If you want to say thank you, then you do right by yourself, do right by your family, do right by your friends. When you do wrong, and you will do wrong, you own it, you learn from it and move on. Thank me by giving before taking. Thank me by speaking up for someone who can’t and when no one else will. Thank me by doing your best to make sure our branches and vines stay strong and continue to grow, and to keep trying. 

Through all the proclamations and speeches, the same words kept cropping up. Beloved. Respect. Legacy. Vision. Charles Sexton was clearly a man who had a positive effect on more than just our town. He changed lives as well and seems to have made everything and everyone he touched a little bit better.

A lot of signs will need replacing, and it’s going to take a generation or more before the name “North Ponds Park” fades into memory. But now, at least, the memory of Charles E. Sexton — and what he did for our community — will endure forever.

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Miracle Field has a new newsletter, new website

14 Apr

One of my favorite local organizations came across my email several days ago with some wonderful news.

The folks at Rochester Challenger Miracle Field have just introduced their very first newsletter. Now, I already know a lot about Miracle Field, the great opportunities it provides and the fundraising events that support its mission. But I felt compelled to scroll through the newsletter anyway, drawn in by a dozen colorful photos of widely-grinning athletes and volunteers.

I’m glad I did take the time, because I learned a few things I DIDN’T yet know. Like how the organization’s sports offerings have expanded since the field was opened eight years ago. And about plans for Heroes’ Day 2022 and a brand new Oktoberfest.

The newsletter also reported that Rochester Challenger Miracle Field has a new website. I checked that out as well and it’s beautiful. It nicely depicts all the life-changing experiences this organization brings to our young people.

If you STILL don’t know much about Miracle Field, allow me to quote directly from the newsletter:

Eight years ago, what started as an idea became a reality; to bring a fully inclusive sports facility to the greater Rochester area. Initially designed for athletes to play baseball, the Miracle Field morphed into something more significant. We also included an all-purpose rubberized rectangular turf field to play various sports on. It allows anyone a chance to play regardless of their physical or cognitive challenge.  We are also excited to have had the opportunity to bring a new inclusive, barrier-free playground to complement the park.

On-site programs now include baseball, flag football, soccer, and kickball. And it’s always good to mention that there’s “No Experience Necessary” to play at Miracle Field. Or, as we like to say, “No Boundaries, Only Possibilities.”  A place where no one judges and the only focus is performing to the best of your ability and having FUN.

Rochester Challenger Miracle Field is located in Ridge Park behind Town Hall on Ridge Rd. Webster is fortunate to have this beautiful facility right in our back yard. I encourage everyone to check out the newsletter (there should be a link on the website soon), put some fundraisers on your calendar, and support this great organization as much as you can.

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Webster Quilt Guild’s annual show coming soon

10 Apr

The Webster Quilt Guild invites community members to “Envision the Possibilities” at their 2022 Quilt Show, scheduled this year for Saturday and Sunday April 23 and 24 at Holy Trinity Church.

The show will showcase approximately 250 quilts, plus special displays of quilts crafted for the Breast Cancer Coalition, Quilts of Valor, Bivona Child Advocacy Center, Asbury Storehouse, and Meals on Wheels. So even if you’re not a quilter, it’s worth coming just to see these beautiful creations.

In addition to the quilts, the show will include vendors, a boutique table, and a book and pattern sale. There will also be dozens of “wee” quilts for purchase, miniature 10″ by 10″ quilts that make great gifts and are perfect for things like wall hangings, hot pads, mug mats, plant mats and more. About 60 of these were recently on display at the Webster Public Library (pictured below).

PLUS, you can take a chance on the beautiful “Quilter’s Patch” quilt created by Guild members, which will be raffled at the end of the two-day show. (That quilt is pictured at the beginning of the blog.)

The “wee” quilts

The guild will also be collecting non-perishable food items in support of the Webster Backpack Food program. 

The “Envision the Possibilities” quilt show will be held Saturday April 23 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Sunday April 24 from noon to 4 p.m. at Holy Trinity Church, 146 Ridge Road, Webster. Admission tickets are $5 and will be available at the door.

The Webster Quilt Guild’s mission is to share quilt-making experiences, encourage friendships, promote the history, art and skill of quilt making, and support community services.  The guild has 80 members and is celebrating its 47th year. The organization creates hundreds of donations each year for agencies in the Rochester area.

The photo below shows last year’s Quilt Show award winners:

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