As the last remaining admirers bid adieu to gardens around the city and the 19th annual Garden Walk Buffalo drew to a close Sunday evening, all indications were that this year’s edition of the natural scenery showcase was a resounding success – a little rain notwithstanding.
“I think things went very well” said Cindy Loomis, who, in addition to her duties as first-year president of Garden Walk Buffalo, spent the weekend welcoming visitors to the garden encircling her 16th Street home.
Because the event is free and requires no ticket or preregistration of any kind, event organizers can’t estimate the total number of attendees right away. To get a sense of what this year’s attendance figure looked like, organizers will tally the number of garden walk maps distributed either as paper copies or PDF downloads. Estimates from recent years put the turnout at around 60,000 people.
Still, organizers staffing the event headquarters at the Richmond-Summer Senior Center told Loomis this year’s turnout appeared larger than last year’s, with more folks attending on Sunday to take advantage of clearer skies. For her part, Loomis said the streets near her Cottage District home were full of people throughout the weekend. This in spite of Saturday’s overcast skies and occasional showers.
“The rain last night meant we didn’t have to water this morning,” Loomis said.
One of the weekend’s highlights was Buffalo Garden Walk’s first fundraiser. “An Evening of Wine and Roses” on Friday night gave 102 people an exclusive look at three gardens not included on the tour itself, bookended by wine and hors d’oeuvres at the Clement Mansion on Delaware Avenue. Proceeds benefitted the Marvin Lunenfeld Beautification Grants, named in honor of the late Buffalo man who, along with his wife, Gail McCarthy, started Buffalo’s first garden walk in 1994 after attending a similar event in Chicago. Lunenfeld died last November at age 78.
Loomis said the total amount raised has yet to be calculated, but that “it was a very successful event” and may well be repeated.
Looking ahead to next year, Loomis said organizers will close the book on this year’s event at a meeting this week. Planning for the 20th edition of Garden Walk Buffalo begins in earnest in February, but “this has become almost a year-round event” in terms of planning, Loomis said.
Loomis said organizers plan on commemorating the event’s 20th anniversary in a special way next year, but wouldn’t let any details out of the bag other than to say “there will be something special.”