The first bonsai organization in Rochester was called the Rochester Bonsai Society. The day after Wm. N. Valavanis returned home from his apprenticeship in Omiya Bonsai Village in 1972,  several members broke off and formed the Rochester Bonsai Arts Group. The Bonsai Society of Upstate New York had an organizational meeting in October 1972 at the Valavanis home. So, at one time there were three bonsai organizations in Rochester, New York. The first two organizations could not compete with the Bonsai Society of Upstate New York and gradually faded away.

The club membership and budget continued to grow in size in the early 2000’s and it was decided that the group should become more official.  In April 2016, the Bonsai Society of Upstate New York incorporated as an educational Not-For-Profit 501c(3).  This change has also allowed members to donate materials and money to club in exchange for a tax write-off.

Mission Statement:  The Bonsai Society of Upstate New York Inc. was formed to promote an appreciation and practice of the horticultural art of Bonsai in upstate New York . It will host Bonsai professionals, with both national and international reputations, for lectures, demonstrations and workshops. Each year there will be an exhibit of the area’s finest Bonsai, open to the public. General education in the art of Bonsai will be afforded at regularly scheduled meetings.

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Places we have gotten together:

  • Early meetings were held at the Henrietta Town Hall Community Room.
  • First exhibition held at “The Castle”- Civic Garden Center in Highland Park.
  • Second exhibition held at the Monroe County Fairgrounds in front of the Dome Arena.
  • The 3rd exhibition was held at the Monroe County Cooperative Extension in Brighton.
  • Then it was moved to the St. John’s Nursing Home in Brighton.
  • Later to the Eisenhart Auditorium of the Rochester Museum and Science Center.
  • Our current exhibition home is the Monroe Community Hospital

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Past Club Presidents

  • Alois Bobbe
  • Victor Mellen
  • Robert Nilsen
  • Harvey Carapella
  • Joe Noga
  • Bill Valavanis
  • Brenta Sullivan
  • Andrea Petitto
  • Dan Hraber
  • Harvey Carapella
  • Jim Dolce
  • Marc Arpag (current)

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Original BSUNY Logo Artwork

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Click the thumbnail below to see a Record of Historical Monthly Meeting Agendas!