Saturday, April 10, 2021

Cherry Blossom Fest online again this year


Cherry blossoms in full bloom in 2017
By Shania Santiago

            The budding cherry trees signal the approaching Buffalo Cherry Blossom Festival. Like last year, the festival will take place remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions.

            This year will mark the 8th annual festival, which is set to take place April 26 to May 1. The festival will be held in Buffalo’s Japanese Garden, located in Delaware Park. Paula Hinz, co-chairman of the Japanese Garden, can’t wait to see how the cherry trees bloom this year.

            We are so lucky to have a variety of trees in the garden. Some bloom early, some bloom late and some are right in the middle of it all,” Hinz said.

            The garden looks different each year depending on when the cherry trees bloom, something Hinz attributes to Mother Nature.

            The garden is always looking for ways to help build its partnerships and community, Hinz said. This year’s virtual festival will be filled with a variety of activities for remote visitors to enjoy.

            “We’ll have virtual presentations by Sato Restaurant, Sun Cuisines and Lockhouse Distillery, the local creators of Sakura Gin. We’ll have a meditation and a walking tour in the garden. Nature lovers are invited to find inspiration in the garden and try their hand at writing a haiku, a 17-syllable traditional Japanese poem,” Hinz said.

            Visitors will have the chance to see the garden from Mirror Lake. According to Hinz, Buffalo Maritime Center will have rowboats available to rent. There will also be a virtual tour available of the Kenroku-en garden in Kanazawa, Japan.

            The festival has a number of other features to look forward to, including performances organized by Music is Art. According to Tracy Fletcher, Music is Art executive director, these performances will be recorded and premiere on May 1.  

            “We will have four to five different performances,” Fletcher said.

            As of now, Music is Art is not ready to announce the performance lineup.

            With one remote festival already under their belt, garden volunteers have learned to keep the virtual program focused and engaging, Hinz said.

            With everything shutting down in March, our yearly rhythm completely shifted and Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy quickly took on the role of coordinating with our partners to create a virtual program,” Hinz said.

            Buffalo’s Japanese Garden was created in the 1970s. The festival has been held in the Japanese Garden for the past seven years. The goal of the festival is to help raise funds and awareness for the care and maintenance of the garden.