Thirteen neatly tended gardens will be on public display, 50 garden-related vendors will be on hand, and Lewiston has been designated as "the place to be" when the Lewiston Garden Club presents its sixth annual GardenFest Saturday and Sunday.
If the weather is good, thousands of visitors are expected to flock to Center Street and nearby gardens for this year's event, said Marija Vukcevich, the club's public relations coordinator.
Admission is free. The garden tours and vendors will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.
The 13 gardens featured in the Open Garden Walk will include the International Peace Garden at the Courtyard on Center Street. The garden is part of a Niagara Frontier Initiative undertaken by the Binational Tourism Alliance to recognize significant locations in the United States and Canada in the War of 1812.
Peggy Hassey is chairwoman of the garden tours.
Gardening experts will answer questions in a community tent to be set up next to the historic Frontier House on Center Street. The building, now vacant, was once a carriage stop and hotel. In more recent years it housed a McDonald's restaurant.
Speakers at the tent include John Farfaglia, a Cornell Cooperative Extension horticulture educator, at 11:30 a.m. Saturday; Ken Brown, host of the WBEN Radio "Garden Show," at 1:30 p.m. Saturday; Geri Hens, speaking on "Bees and Other Pollinating Insects," at 11:30 a.m. Sunday; and Ralph Stone, an engineer who is a master at rock designing and formation, at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
Volunteers at a hospitality booth at Fourth and Center streets will distribute maps highlighting the weekend's events and will answer questions about specific home gardens on the tour.
GardenFest also will hold a container garden contest in which participants submit their best containers of flowers or plants. Contestants can register for the contest by calling coordinator Kay Kalick at 754-4595 by today. Containers and stands can be taken to the hospitality booth at 9 a.m. Saturday. The People's Choice Award in this contest will be presented at 3 p.m. Sunday.
Garden Club President Sharon Low and GardenFest Chairwoman Barbara Landree have accepted a proclamation from state legislators from the area designating Lewiston as "the place to be" for the GardenFest. The proclamation was presented by State Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-Newfane, and Assemblyman John D. Ceretto, R-Lewiston.
Earnings from projects such as the club's annual public sale of perennials are returned to the community and beyond through various donations.
Among those donations in 2010-11 are a $1,000 scholarship for a graduating Lewiston senior; $1,000 for a Niagara Community College student; $2,000 for a fountain and $1,000 for flowers for the International Peace Garden; $1,000 for the Beautification Commission; $1,000 for Christmas garlands to decorate Center Street; and $1,000 for a charitable organization, Hands Together in Haiti.
The club also has donated $200 to the Massachusetts Avenue Project, an urban farming project on Buffalo's West Side that employs 50 youths, teaching them how to farm, develop recipes with fresh produce and market their products. The organization also has sent CARE packages to troops in Afghanistan and supports a local Junior Garden Club.