Strong Thunderstorms Couldn’t Stop the Rochester MusicFest 2017 After All

Bobby Brown performs as part of the 2017 Rochester MusicFest. Credit: Michele Ashlee

Bobby Brown performs as part of the 2017 Rochester MusicFest. Credit: Michele Ashlee

“We were ready to go back to the park,” shouted Mia Howard of Rochester. She held her hand over my right ear to avoid screaming directly into my tympanic membrane (forms the eardrum) and I appreciate her for that. The crowd was feeling the final act of the two-day festival and Bobby Brown was on stage opening his performance with the fan-favorite “That’s the Way Love Is.”  Howard said, “I wanted that outside experience” but knew that was impossible. As much as she wanted to be at the park, she said “safety is obviously priority.”

“We were ready to go,”  said Liliana Ruiz, program coordinator for the festival. The festival was slated to return to Genesee Valley Park, continuing an old Rochester tradition. However, inclement weather hours before preparation, forced the team to make a somber decision. With the grounds at the park saturated with water and lightning streaking the sky, just a day before opening act, all involved had to prepare for a transition from the park to the Blue Cross Arena. Ticket holders wanted to be outside for the MusicFest, but as always stated, the show must go on.

Ruiz said the Blue Cross Arena staff did a magnificent job accommodating the large event in such short notice. “The venue was open and the staff were flexible,” she said. This made it a lot easier for them to try their best at creating a festival experience, including bringing in food trucks.

Food trucks were parked outside the arena but there wasn’t a ton of people standing in line to eat. Unlike your typical festival, not a lot of people were bouncing from food truck to vendor.

Though the last-minute venue change may have impacted ticket sales, the crowd was large and excited to see Bobby Brown. Credit: Michele Ashlee

Though the last-minute venue change may have impacted ticket sales, the crowd was large and excited to see Bobby Brown. Credit: Michele Ashlee

“We had a challenge coordinating the food truck but we bounced back,” said Theresa Bowick, volunteer food coordinator. “The Blue Cross Arena allowed people to bring food purchased from the food trucks inside to eat at the food court.” Bowick exclaimed that rain or shine wouldn’t interfere with providing festival-goers a great festival experience.

Unfortunately,  neither vendors nor food trucks earned as much business as they would have in the park, according to owners. But that wasn’t the case for Charlotte Thomas-Burch, owner of Sensuous Satiable Aromatherapy and Body Care gift shop. She said business was still booming for her. “I’ve been vending at the festival since 2006. I’m invested in my customers and they follow me wherever I go,” she said. “So, I’ve been busy all day and loving it.”

Susie Gatewood of Rochester attended the event with her family. She was loving her MusicFest experience, too. She was grateful that the event still happened unlike several popular events that were cancelled by different coordinators in past years. “It’s wonderful that Mayor Warren made sure to accommodate the Rochester community,” said Gatewood. “They could have cancelled this event but they kept it going for us.”

It’s true, the rain was a bummer. It impacted business for vendors and food trucks and maybe even last-minute ticket sales. Being outside was important for more than one reason. It was a lot of hard work that went into preparing for the festival’s return to the park. However, the change in location didn’t stop people from making the best out of a good back-up plan.

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