The Puerto Rican Festival is expanding free admission and kid-friendly activities this year and may receive twice as much funding from the city of Rochester than last year.
Mayor Lovely Warren has proposed that the city give $80,000 to sponsor the 2020 festival. City Council will consider the proposal this month.
This year's festival will see some major changes, including its schedule. The festival will kick off on a Thursday with free admission all day, and end on Saturday night.
Orlando Ortiz, president of the Puerto Rican Festival, said the expanded free admission offers more opportunity for larger families to attend without worrying about the cost.
“As a result of this change, we can offer free admission for our community and incorporate that with the Welcome Home Rochester initiative that the city has undertaken now,” Ortiz said.
He added that the festival's changes are a way for Puerto Ricans who have been displaced by natural disasters in recent years to feel more at home in Rochester, while inviting more people from different ethnic backgrounds to appreciate the island’s culture.
“Families can come and not only celebrate but also educate themselves about our Puerto Rican culture,” he said.
The event will feature more cultural activities for kids, including music workshops and storytelling.
Justin Roj, a city spokesperson, said that by ending on a Saturday night, people will have other nightlife options after the festival closes.
“The thought was, ‘Hey, on Saturdays, you know, when the festival ends, this gives people an outlet,' ” Roj said. “They can go to bars and restaurants and continue to enjoy the evening in kind of a productive and positive manner.”
For the past several years, rowdiness after the festival -- not during -- on Sunday nights has led to clashes with police.
Ortiz said artists will be announced in the coming weeks. This year will mark the 51st anniversary of the festival.