Summer and sunshine — we’ve still got ’em, Rochester, and we have lots of ways to enjoy them. We should not look directly into the sun, but we can behold it through other means: ripening peaches, sunflower fields, and in the face of a lion. And they’re all here.
Leo, the zodiac sign long-associated with the sun, is having its moment right now. Leos can celebrate their namesake through August 16 during World Lion Week at Seneca Park Zoo. This annual education series brings conservation to the forefront to protect a species that has lost around 80 percent of its natural habitat. To ensure physical distancing, timed-entry tickets must be reserved in advance to visit Chester, Asha, and Zuri, the zoo’s African lions ($9-$12). Or, go online to watch zoologist James Weinpress train and feed the lions. While there, you can make a donation toward conservation efforts in Africa and enter to win an authentic Asha paw print.
See the sun in the blooms of more than 250,000 sunflowers during the Sunflower Experience at Stokoe Farms in Scottsville, through August 23. A spectrum of warm hues provides a quintessential summer moment from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., every Friday through Sunday. Admission is $18.95 for adults and $11.95 for kids ages 3 to 10. This weekend, Pinot’s Palette offers paint classes as well ($25 includes admission, supplies, instruction, and a bloom to take home). Or, for drama and ceremony, watch the flowers bow their heads with the setting sun during the Sunflower Twilight Experience, Fridays from 5 to 9 p.m. ($19.95 with an add-on dinner option).
If you really want to get lost in a field, enter Long Acre Farms’ Amazing Maize Maze during the Summer Soiree in the Maze, which starts this Friday. The theme of this year’s maze is “Cast your vote!,” not just to commemorate the upcoming election, but to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and women’s right to vote. Once you’ve entered the maze, you will be inside a ballot box. What will be the outcome? Tickets are $12 to $15, with a discount for advanced online purchases.
Pop culture’s most famous Summer event — Woodstock — is the inspiration for this weekend’s Peace, Love, Beer, & Music Festival, jointly hosted by craft breweries in the New York State Brewers Association. Starting on Friday at 5 p.m., breweries throughout the state will present streaming concerts and special edition “Summer of Love” collaborative beers. Local brewers, including Genesee Brew House, Rohrbach Brewing, and Square Knot Brewing, will each offer their unique Summer of Love brews on site throughout the weekend, while dozens of bands and musicians pay tribute to that mythical summer.
Meanwhile, the Skaneateles Festival continues, in virtual form, through August. Concerts in this year’s stalwart music festival center heavily on the works of Beethoven to commemorate the 250th anniversary of his birth. “SkanFest U: Virtual Beethoven” explores the composer’s life and music on Tuesdays at 3 p.m. In contrast, bluegrass duo Mark and Maggie O’Connor will play a free concert on Saturday at 8 p.m., featuring both classics of the genre and originals. The festival closes on August 29 at 8 p.m. with a free performance featuring the Ying Quartet: “From Beethoven, With Hope” includes the choral finale from “Symphony No. 9,” arranged by Franz Liszt.
Our community continues the conversation on policing this weekend, both online and in person. On Saturday from 5 to 6:30 p.m., the Westside Rally to End Racism will gather — physically distanced — at the former Chili Town Hall. Speakers include organizers Gwen Clifton and Shawna Lusk, retired RPD officer and film maker Marvin Stepherson, and Town Supervisor David Dunning, among others.
Then on Sunday at 2 p.m., SURJ ROC (Rochester’s chapter of Standing Up for Racial Justice) will host the Abolition House Party on Zoom. The discussion, which will break out in small groups, is designed to consider challenging questions concerning public safety, including “Can policing and prisons really be abolished?” Warm up on Thursday as SURJ presents the workshop, Building Racial Justice through Allyship, at 6:30 p.m. Allyship is at the core of SURJ, and the workshop is explicitly designed for “white people learning to be better racial justice allies.” All events are free, but donations are welcome.
And finally, don’t think the sun has set on this year’s Sterling Renaissance Festival. The villagers of Warwick, circa 1585, are remarkably tech-savvy as they present Virtual Sterling: An Online Celebration through August 15. The 2020 iteration forgoes the jousting matches, Queen’s parade, and turkey legs, but the skits, storytelling, period music, and wink-laden wordplay continue to be refreshed. The Artisans Marketplace is replete with handmade wares — carved leather, chain maille, weaponry, ancient board games, and more — to outfit your anachronistic alter ego.
When going to any live events, it’s wise to familiarize yourself with any special precautions put in place. Continuing to wear face coverings and practice physical distancing will help everyone maintain a sunny disposition.
Keep up to date with full listings of local online events on the CITY Events Calendar. Do you have an event you wish to include? You can submit online, or email event information to [email protected].