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Rochester’s East End Festivals started in 1990 as a way to draw attention to the district – and have a good time.

In 1990, the East End had the Eastman School of Music and several bars, including Milestones, Richmond’s and whatever Salinger’s used to be called. There was no Sagamore, Spot Coffee, expensive apartments, Jazz Festival, 2Vine or Tournedos.

The East End has gentrified.

The East End Festival finds itself in a bind. The festivals, which take places on three Friday nights in the summer, draw thousands of people in their 20s and 30s to the district. East Ave. is blocked from Scio to Chestnut. There are beer trucks and bands. It’s a huge happy hour.

The new neighbors can’t stand it.

Saying they face opposition like never before, the organizers say the festival can’t go on. If it does continue, it won’t be the same:

Mike O’Leary, owner of Temple Bar and Grill, has been involved in planning East End Festivals for almost two decades. “They won’t be the same in the future. They’re over as people know them.”

O’Leary said he believes the festivals will continue and retain the name, but there will be fewer stages and streets blocked off and the event will be “more sensitive to neighbors.”

East End Festivals have been cited by many young people as a reason they like Rochester. There aren’t a lot of problems at the festivals, which charge admission. Organizers point out no one complains about the Jazz Festival. It’s not hard to see why. Jazz patrons have more money to spend at the new businesses.

Perhaps it makes more sense to hold the festival in the Upper East End, near East and Alexander, which is mostly a bar and restaurant district.

The organizers say they’re not under pressure from the city to make changes and are doing this as a preemptive strike. I suspect they’re also hoping by announcing the festivals are possibly over, they will gain support for keeping them the same.

Update: The organizers are now being more forceful in saying the festival will remain, but with the changes described above.

Links of the Day:

– A fairly explosive story details how former governor David Paterson’s staff wanted state police to replace his security detail with black and Hispanic officers. Former state police officials are shocked then-attorney general Andrew Cuomo seemingly did nothing with the information.

Is high speed rail in New York picking up steam?

– That whole “women and children first” thing is a myth.



16 Responses to Festival a Victim of Gentrification?

  1. Salingers was The Rabbit Hole. )

  2. Who cares about the new neighbors? The festival was there long before they were. If they do not like it, too bad. The organizers should not roll over for these cry babies if the city is leaving the issue alone.

  3. I once read that a book reading/signing was planned at Greenwood Books for the same evening as the East End Festival (not a good choice of dates, but it was when the author was available). Anyone wanting to attend the book reading was forced to pay the entry fee for the festival even though they only wanted to go to the bookstore.

    It does bring people to the area, but, then again, it keeps others away. I stay far away from the area on those nights, so my money is spent elsewhere.

    • July 31, 2012 at 10:31 am Rachel responds:

      I totally understand that complaint. There’s got to be a solution, such as special wristbands for customers of those businesses.

  4. July 31, 2012 at 9:12 am lynn e responds:

    East Ave has always been gentrified but with new housing where there hadn’t been before, this was going to happen. Not sure how it will end up but can understand what it must be like to the people who now live there.

  5. Beer trucks and blaring bands. Sounds lieke of the rest of Rochesters festivals. 20 and 30 year olds dont exactly make for a tamed down celebration.

  6. Could always move it to Bulls Head. It could use some economic stimulus, no?

  7. There is soo much wrong with destroying a Festival that has been running for so long !! a) Those people that moved and open businesses there knew what the deal was. I’ve walked by that guitar shop, it closes @ 9:00 and there isnt that much foot traffic that goes in there , go visit it for yourself B) How come Park Ave and Corn Hill festivals which are closed for a WHOLE weekend and people dont try to close that, why because the neighborhood deals with it !!!! And let’s not forget the ECONOMIC impact for the small business that support the East End Festival, ATM providers,food vendors, Ice suppliers, portable potty’s,etc and yes the bars that people enjoying after a long week !!! And if this goes , the Jazz Festival could be next !!! One more thing , this is NOT a 20-30 festival, plenty of 40’s,50’s people enjoying the music and a cold beer !!!!

    • For Park Ave, Corn Hill, and the Jazz Fest, the streets are closed off to car traffic but there is no gated admission – anyone can still walk down the street. I see their point here, it’s a real pain if you can’t even walk to your apartment without a hassle.

  8. July 31, 2012 at 11:31 am Michele responds:

    I suggest some or all of the following:
    1. Move some of the smaller stages to inside venues, requiring them not to charge admission to be part of the fest. Salingers and Milestones, Spot. This would support local business, but still have the entertainment.
    2. Move the bigger stages to where the Jazz Fest stages normally are.
    3. The City should add a regulation warning/notifying local residents of the existence of the festivals (jazz and east end) so that by moving there they are officially warned on the public record. This is typically done for people moving near farms to notify them of the existance of noise or smells.

  9. July 31, 2012 at 2:29 pm Orielly responds:

    Whats the difference between the JAZZ fest and the East End Fest. For the most part same thing. Different crowd to some extent but concept is the same. 1000s on the street, drinking beer listening to music. Can’t help but think the bottom line is the Jazz Fest is at the root cause of this. Too many Fests for those living there and maybe the Jazz wants to move a few more weeks into the summer for better weather

  10. Again, the difference between the Jazz Fest and the East End Fest is that the Jazz Fest is free, so anyone can still do other business in that area without being charged an admittance fee to a festival they are not even attending.

    • Oh yeah. Not to mention the Jazz Fest has QUALITY music.

    • Mary, the Jazz Festival is not free for several reason, 1st the City of Rochester gives the Jazz festival money from the city budget , the East end Festival pays for ALL cost , from Police/EMS cost to security,stages and thus the reason they charge a small fee ($3 is a huge amount ). 2nd you have to pay to see some of the performers or pay $140 for a club pass yes there are some free concerts 3rd) If you show security your license proving you live there they will let you in with out paying .

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