Missing Thursdays Downtown? The Rochester Downtown Alliance announced their COVID-friendly alternative, Virtual Thursdays Downtown, which brings together online music performances, food and drink deals from local restaurants, and an expansive online shop.
The social-distancing shindig starts June 18, and we’ve broken it down, with the help of Katie Adelman, the director of content and communications for the Rochester Downtown Alliance (RDA).
Related: Thursdays Downtown goes virtual
11 Thursdays in the summer. Since this year’s season starts in mid-June, there will be 11 dates between June 18 and Aug. 27.
32 Rochester restaurants were confirmed for Virtual Thursdays last week, including local favorites like Pescara (Adelman’s favorite for fish tacos), Chester’s Kitchen & Bar, Mango Thai, and more. Those restaurants will have special “Thursdays” food and drink specials throughout the summer (still in the works as of noon on June 18).
90 vendors — like Lula’s Big Cookies, Ballerina Botanicals, Kat’s Kloset, and Pastor Bob's Grillin Magic will hawk everything from condiments to cosmetics on the Virtual Thursdays website, according to Adelman’s list from last week. She said the number is slightly down from last year (115 per week), but still encouraging.
60 minutes of music every Thursday. The RDA is working with Brandon Helgeson of Big Bang Entertainment to find a mix of “full-on bands” and acoustic artists to play music to be broadcast at 7 p.m. every week. The first few acts are rockers Hair of the Dog (June 18), jazz duo The D’Sievers (June 25), and Americana band Six Mile Grove (July 2).
If you’re downtown at the right time, you might catch a pop-up performance being recorded for playback on Thursday — that’s something the RDA is able to do with local bands and performers. Naturally, the organization can’t make the times and locations public, for fear of drawing a crowd — but “it’s a nice surprise if you’re in downtown Rochester and you happen upon that,” Adelman said.
222,000 the number of in-person visitors who attended last year’s Thursdays Downtown season. On a weekly basis, it could have been 20,000 visitors between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m., Adelman said. There’s no estimate so far for virtual participation, but in the first day after the Virtual Thursdays Downtown website was launched, it saw 300 users log into the site — and that was before the virtual marketplace was updated.
1 month since fully committing to a virtual event.
“At the beginning of the year, we were full steam ahead on a physical Thursdays Downtown, but when COVID started taking a hold in March, we realized we maybe had to start looking at how we transform this into a virtual experience,” Adelman said. “We decided in the middle of May that it wasn’t a possibility to do an in-person event.”
See more information (and join the fun!) at virtualthursdaysdowntown.com.