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Legislators: Park Avenue Festival may be canceled again this year

The Rochester Park Avenue Festival began more than 40 years ago.
Randy Gorbman
The Rochester Park Avenue Festival began more than 40 years ago.

Rochester’s Park Avenue Festival may not happen again this year. That’s according to two Monroe County legislators, Linda Hasman of the 23rd district, and Rachel Barnhart of the 21st, who are both Assistant Minority Leaders in the legislature.

With restrictions due to the pandemic, the festival was canceled the last two years, in 2020 and 2021.

And after the 2019 festival, the longtime promoter of the festival pulled out of the event.

Barnhart said on Thursday that the organizers, the Park Avenue Merchants Association, have been unable to find a new promoter.

“There’s a lot that goes into a festival like this, and it’s been mostly self-sustaining over the years, you’ve got to get the sponsors, you have to get the vendor fees, and it’s just a giant production,” said Barnhart. “And it takes a lot of hours of work to get it done.”

Barnhart added that, “It would be sad if we lost the event this year, and it would be really sad if we lost it into the future. But it’s very clear that a new model has to emerge for how this event is going to be produced.”

Barnhart and Hasman have written to Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and Mayor Malik Evans asking for any possible help or ideas in keeping the festival going, if not this year, then planning for 2023.

Evans released a statement saying that the city has been an avid supporter of the Park Avenue Festival since its inception and has worked with the Park Avenue Merchants Association in recent years as it navigated the pandemic and other changes.

The mayor said that, “As with all of Rochester’s neighborhood festivals, the Park Avenue Festival enjoyed success because it was heavily supported by neighbors and local businesses. Ultimately, the Festival is theirs, and the City will continue to support whatever direction the neighborhood decides is best.”

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.