East End Fest back on

02:59 PM, May 21, 2013

The East End Festival will be one day this year, on June 14. (RICH PAPROCKI)/


Written By Jeff Spevak | Staff music critic

Band schedule

Stage 1. The Driftwood Sailors, 6 p.m.; Tryst, 7:30 p.m.; Big Eyed Phish, 9 p.m.
Stage 2. J.J. Lang, 6:15 p.m.; Cherry Bomb, 7:45 p.m.; Download, 9:15 p.m.
Stage 3. Blackened Blues, 6 p.m.; Audio Influx, 7:30 p.m.; Subsoil, 9 p.m.
Stage 4. Natalie B. Band, 6:15 p.m.; Moon Zombies, 7:45 p.m.; ZBTB (a Zac Brown Band tribute), 9:15 p.m.

The East End Festival will be back this year after fighting for its life, but it will only be one night — June 14 — instead of three.

Otherwise, “the footprint of the East End Festival has remained intact,” said co-organizer John Hutchings. The festival has been restructured to allow easy pedestrian access to residences and businesses on the closed-off sections of East Avenue and Gibbs, Swan, Broadway, Scio and Mathews streets. The event has also added a food-truck rodeo in the lot behind the nightclub Easy on East, with 10 to 15 vendors expected.

Hutchings, owner of the Downtown Fitness Club, said it appeared the festival was finished after a city ordinance was passed in December prohibiting the use of city streets by any event that charges admission, a response to criticism from some East End residents and businesses. However, after it was noted that other city events might be affected — in particular the Rochester Real Beer Expo in the South Wedge — Hutchings said an amendment was soon passed that allowed for once-a-year events to charge admission.

This year’s East End Festival, which will run from 5 to 11 p.m., will have a $5 admission charge.

Not all of the East End businesses are or were complaining. Event co-founder Michael O’Leary said Murphy’s Law, one of several bars down a few blocks from the festival site, has its biggest night of the year. “After we close down at 11 our crowd, which is a lot of young professionals, walks down the street to their place,” he said.

Limiting the event to one date does come with some risk. When the event was three nights, rain on one of the nights meant the organizers still had two nights to make up their investment. Because the festival does not get any government grants, O’Leary and Hutchings are exploring the possibility of trying a festival at a different site, nearby Manhattan Square Park.

The East End Festival this year will feature four stages, all local acts playing a mix of original music and cover songs. “This has always been a neighborhood festival,” said O’Leary, adding that they had looked into booking national acts. “So many festivals are booking national acts, we thought we were going to get lost in the crowd. We thought we’d be better off going the other way.”

A brawl at the Lilac Festival last weekend is a concern, both Hutchings and O’Leary said. But anticipating they will have 20 city police officers and 40 private security personnel on hand, they expressed confidence that the event can remain safe. Both men said city officials have considered the East End Festival to be trouble free for its first 22 years.

Many urban communities embrace their festivals as something “that gives life to the streets,” Hutchings said.