First, there are just too many people (I'm told over 110,000) in too small a space to make this any fun. You can't get to the vendor booths and you can't see the street performers.
Second, the main reason I go to the festival is to take photos of local buskers and musicians, which can't happen if there are too many people in the way. Then it is risky business trying to photograph the street performer. I was almost trampled trying to get a shot. Also, there didn't seem to be very many buskers, that I could see.
Some other things that fall under the category of "not very many" was the parade that lasted a whole minute and a half. I stretched it out by following it for a couple blocks -- aside from the Chinese community's seniors band, the brass quartet, and the knights there really wasn't much to follow. And the main stages. This year there was only one main stage, instead of two.
The bulk of this year's festival was vendor booths with much duplication of "Made in China" merchandise. Which, in my mind, changes the festival into a trade show. When I go to the festival I usually ignore the cheap merchandise and scope out local artists, merchants, and non-profit organizations. This year I bought a couple Whiteout Workshop t-shirts and a Meow Foundation toy for Kit.
The Lilac Fest has reached the size where it could be a two day festival or spread out more. I noticed they had a couple blocks of 17th Avenue closed to traffic. Why not use that space for the festival? Or maybe along the river like they do in Seattle for their Solstice Festival.
Sorry Lilac Fest, but this year I came away feeling like I was just squeezed out of the movie Solent Green... without the people eating part.
Links to my Lilac Festival photos on Flickr: