Looking Past the Ugly into Bright Eyes

Jul. 11, 2012
23rd Ten Ugly Men Festival Raises Funds for Golisano Children’s Hospital

 Maybe it’s the hundreds of people playing volleyball in one of the largest outdoor volleyball tournaments in the Eastern United States. Maybe it’s the great music from bands like Small Town, That 80s Hair Band, Big Eyed Phish and Soul Stew. Maybe it’s the bocce tournament, the 5k, the kickball and Kan Jam tournaments, the great food or the beer tent. Whatever the reason, thousands will be descending on Genesee Valley Park on Saturday, July 21, for the 23rd annual Ten Ugly Men Festival.

From its humble origins as a block party in 1989, Ten Ugly Men has grown into one of the summer’s largest festivals. The original idea for the festival was to move the party to a local park, invite more people, charge them for admission, and donate whatever money they made to local charities.

“It grew exponentially from that,” said co-organizer John Fitzsimmons, “I think it’s become a sort of ritual for a lot of people in Rochester. We have such a short summer and people want to make sure they take advantage of the weather.”

But besides bringing the community together for a packed day of summer fun, Ten Ugly Men makes an impact that’s less visible but just as important. For the past seven years, the Ten Ugly Men Festival has donated thousands of dollars in proceeds to the Bright Eyes Fund, which benefits the Pediatric Oncology Division at Golisano Children’s Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

The decision to donate to Bright Eyes was inspired by the tragic death of Kimberly Fitzsimmons, John Fitzsimmons’s first wife, from a malignant brain tumor in 2003.“Even though she didn’t win her battle, she got such great treatment at Strong Memorial Hospital,” Fitzsimmons said, “I had to suggest to the guys that we donate.” Since then, between 40 and 50 percent of the festival’s proceeds, which amounts to between $20,000 and $30,000 annually, has benefitted the Bright Eyes Fund.

“The festival is something to look forward to,” said Fitzsimmons, “People want to have fun and they know they are supporting a good cause.”

The Ten Ugly Men Festival will run from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets are $30 in advance, and can be purchased at Wegmans and Ticketmaster. Admission is $40 at the door. Admission for kids ages 13 to 20 costs $10, and can be purchased the day of the event. Kids 12 years old and under get in free.

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