Lilyfest flowers

Those attending the annual Lilyfest will see a variety of beautiful lilies such as the above photo.

ROCKBRIDGE — Ever want to just explore all nature has to offer with live music, food, artists and others who have a love for the outdoors? That’s exactly what LilyFest brings to the table next weekend on July 12-13.

LilyFest dates back to 1992, when Bobbi and her late husband, Bruce, Bishop first hosted the event at their home where the lily gardens were showcased and artists showed off their work. Since then, LilyFest has grown to over 60 artists, with live music, food, and of course, three acres of beautiful gardens with ponds and unique garden sculptures.

The Bishops wanted their land preserved for the use of Hocking County citizens and those of surrounding areas, therefore it has been donated and worked in conjunction with the Hocking Soil, Water Conservation District (HSWCD). Now known as Bishop Educational Gardens, Bobbi receives help to maintain and keep the three acres looking beautiful.

Throughout the year the Bishop Educational Gardens offers yearly scholarships awarded to Logan High School students, special tours for persons with disabilities, and workshops for children and adults. This year, the HSWCD is offering educational experiences and hiking tours during LilyFest.

There’s a one-mile walk that people can hike and a side trail to a waterfall that the HSWCD has been working to clean up. The Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalists (OCVN) will be offering hikes around the property to those locations throughout the festival.

Additionally, there will be a fairy garden contest where kids will be able to search for fairies to win prizes, and Chris Kline from Butterfly Ridge will have the butterfly house open for everyone to enjoy.

As LilyFest approaches, it takes a small village to put everything together and keeping it beautiful. Rebecca Miller, education specialist at HSWCD, estimates a couple hundred people help before and during the festival, from parking lot attendants, greeting tables, garden bed volunteers, naturalists leading hikes and more.

One of the bigger challenges this year has been dealing with all the rain the area has received. Bobbi says they can barely keep up with the amount of weeds that are growing or tree limbs that have fallen, but she has lots of helpers.

“Kids are learning about plants and learning how to prune. I have some high school kids that have worked with me for a couple years and plus interns (from HSWCD). The interns are teaching us about geology and identifying rocks and plants… they teach us the things they know and I teach them the things I know,” explained Bobbi.

The thing both Miller and Bobbi most look forward to LilyFest for is the commodore between everyone.

“Besides the fact that it gets me away from the office and outdoors — my favorite aspect is honestly the people; a large group of people that come together to enjoy gardens, art, nature, and an appreciation for the environment,” expressed Miller.

“I look forward to seeing the people who come in kind of wound up from being out in the world and you can almost see them go, “Ahh,” because it’s just quiet, it’s peaceful, they’re enjoying nature, they’re enjoying the flowers, their awed by the rock formations and the waterfall… it’s a relaxed kind of festival,” shared Bobbi.

LilyFest starts Friday, July 12, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 13200 Little Cola Road in Rockbridge.

Admission is free. For more information and a list of artists or musicians, visit www.lilyfest.com. To view more about the educational programs and hikes visit www.hockingswcd.com.

Grace Warner is a reporter for the Logan Daily News, a sister publication to the Herald.

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