A photo from the picturesque Bishop Educational Gardens, where Lilyfest takes place each year. (WOUB Public Media/Emily Votaw)

Lilyfest Celebrates Art, Music and Gardening in the Hocking Hills July 13-15

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A family-friendly festival in the Hocking Hills that combines art, music, and gardening with outdoor education is scheduled for July 13-15 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, plants and ponds.

Clay sculptures and water features that are whimsical in nature dot the landscape, which is cared for by several volunteers and local families. Each piece helps create a unique experience for visitors as they walk along the paths, and represent a good bit of the diversity that the artists bring to Lilyfest each year.

“They’re not formal gardens. They’re designed to give you a chuckle,” said Bobbi Bishop, who with her late husband, Bruce, donated the land to the Hocking Soil and Water Conservation District in 2008.

Tiny, angelic clay butts stick out of the ground in one location, for example.

Lilyfest started as a backyard pottery sale 27 years ago and has grown to attract 5,000 visitors a year. More than 70 artists now have their work on display. It’s a showcase of local clay sculptures, blown glass, jewelry, wood carvings, photography and everything else that artists from the Hocking Hills region create.

Several educational workshops are planned, as well as regularly scheduled interpretive hikes with certified naturalists along the Paul Hoskins Trail. An interpretive hike schedule will be located at the entrance to the trailhead.

Leisurely take a hike or simply meander around the gardens and enjoy the sites and sounds that make Lilyfest beautiful. Stop by the butterfly enclosure and observe every stage of the species’ remarkable life cycle, sit on a bench in the Japanese garden, watch artists carve wood creations, hear musical acts perform, purchase native and exotic plants and colorful artwork, attend workshops about the environment, have gardening questions answered by master gardeners or naturalists, and eat scrumptious, melt-in-your-mouth food.

For the first time this year, Lilyfest will be a zero waste event. Each food vendor has committed to using compostable containers. Recycling and compost containers will be located throughout the grounds.

Bishop hopes that next spring when it comes time to pull weeds and fertilize the gardens again, that it will be with compost from this year’s Lilyfest.

“We try to do something new each year with the environment and outdoor education,” she said. “It’s kind of like an outdoor learning lab for everyone.”

Anyone worried about lugging their newly purchased artwork to their car can be rest assured that it will arrive there safely. School-age wagon pullers are available to assist people take items to their vehicles.

“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 The gardens are located at 13200 Little Cola Rd, Rockbridge, 43149.