Festival plans venue change - Catholic Courier

Festival plans venue change

ROCHESTER — This year’s Puerto Rican Festival, scheduled this year for Aug. 3-5, will take place at a new location, marking a change for which festival organizers say many people in the community have been clamoring for during the last few years.

The move — to the VIP parking lot at Frontier Field — also brings the 37th-annual festival closer to its roots at Brown’s Square, said Ida P√©rez, festival board president. Because of the Rochester Red Wings schedule, the festival was forced to move up a week from its usual schedule later in the month of August, added P√©rez, coordinator of Ibero-American Action League’s early Head Start and preschool programs.

The parking area was chosen because festivalgoers prefer concrete for such festival traditions as salsa dancing, she said of the new setting.
“It’s a little grassy, and we’ll have trees around. People are excited about it,” P√©rez said.

Carlos Santana, who serves on the planning committee for the Puerto Rican parade, which was revived three years ago, said he is glad about the change.

“We’re getting closer and closer to Brown’s Square,” he said. “We should go back to our roots or own our own property.”

The move to a new venue came about through the assistance of Mayor Robert Duffy, who had heard from many people during his campaign for mayor about the need for a change, Pérez added. For several years, people have complained about holding the festival at the Civic Center Plaza because of criminal-justice buildings that surround it, she said.

Gary Walker, the city’s director of communications, affirmed that the mayor had supported a move during his campaign.
“The city has been instrumental in making this happen,” P√©rez said. “We’re really taking it back to where
it used to be and how things used
to be. We’re working toward that direction. ‚Ķ We’re hoping it will be acceptable to the community.”

The Frontier lot was the next best thing to the Civic Center in terms of surface plus the built-in barricades it provides, she said. The change did add costs for a front-entrance barricade, Perez added. So, entry prices rose to $20 for a three-day pass and $9 for a one-day pass, she said.

The change in date also provided an opportunity to reconnect the parade with the festival, said Santana, a member of the parade committee.
He said more than 400 people drove or walked the parade route last year. This year, the route will begin at Don Samuel Torres Park at the corner of North Clinton Avenue and Oakman Street, and continue down Clinton to Upper Falls Boulevard to State Street toward the festival site.

“People wanted a parade again, and we brought it again with no money,” Santana said. “It’s all volunteers.”

The theme of this year’s festival is “Absent Pioneers,” and festival organizers plan to honor those who paved the way for Rochester’s Latino community. Their images will be placed on a poster to be unveiled on opening day, P√©rez said.

A committee is still developing the criteria it will use to choose who will be on the poster, she added. During that poster unveiling, seniors from Ibero’s Centro de Oro will attend and have lunch there to honor them as well, she said.

“We want to select people ‚Ķ who have passed and in some shape or form had an impact on our community,” P√©rez added.

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