ROCKBRIDGE – A festival in the Hocking Hills that combines art, music, and gardening with outdoor education is happening July 14-16 in beautiful Southeastern Ohio.
Lilyfest is a three-day festival that takes place at Bishop Educational Gardens, where three acres of artistically landscaped gardens are nestled in the woods and filled with thousands of colorful lilies, flowers and plants.
Whimsical and lighthearted sculptures are interspersed throughout the gardens, as are ponds and water features. Each creates a unique experience for visitors as they walk along grass and gravel walkways.
“They’re not formal gardens. They’re designed to give you a chuckle,” said Bobbi Bishop, who with her husband, Bruce, donated the land to the Hocking Soil and Water Conservation District in 2008.
Lilyfest started as a backyard pottery sale 26 years ago and has grown to attract 5,000 visitors a year.
Bishop first started planting lilies when a friend – a flower hybridizer – gave them away for free.
“Another man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” she said, explaining that there are now thousands of daylilies, water lilies and Asiatic lilies.
That same theme of reusing materials is a common thread at Lilyfest. There are educational workshops that teach the topic, and materials have been repurposed into art sculptures and placed within the gardens themselves. Artists who create recycled art have items available for purchase too.
More than 70 fine artists will display and sell original pieces including garden sculptures, blown glass, jewelry, wood carvings and other works. School-age wagon pullers are available to assist visitors take items to their vehicles.
Visitors can leisurely tour the gardens or take a guided hike, watch artists work, purchase plants and artwork, attend workshops, have questions answered by master gardeners or naturalists, enjoy live music, and eat delicious food.
“Lilyfest isn’t your typical festival with crowds and noise,” explained Dave Brimner, a pencil sketch artist whose work has been featured at the festival for years.
“The music is very soft and acoustic and there are nice crowds of people that come through the gardens.”
Musicians will perform Appalachian-style music on two stages. A schedule of performers is available at www.lilyfest.com.
The gardens are located at 13200 Little Cola Rd, Rockbridge, 43149.