When Gov. Tim Walz lifted the state's mask mandate on May 7 it marked a shift toward a more normal summer. For the Rochesterfest board, it switched festival planning into overdrive.
The board had been planning for a socially distanced event for the 39th annual Rochesterfest, but with the governor’s announcement, organizers shifted gears toward a more traditional Rochesterfest.
“It’s been a little nuts, normally you’re planning to do the event this way for six or seven months,” said Rochesterfest executive director Brandon Helgeson.
This year’s Rochesterfest runs from June 19 through June 27 and features many classic events, including Breakfast on the Farm and the Million Dollar Hole in One golf shootout. Still, the pandemic has led to some alterations.
“We’re trying to deliver as close as we can to the Rochesterfest everybody knows and loves, but that being said, there are a couple things that aren’t coming back,” Helgeson said.
Some events, such as the Hangar Dance, won’t be returning in 2021. Others, like the food vendors and the parade, may be a little lighter than usual.
This year’s parade, scheduled for 2 p.m. June 26 , features about 75 entries, down from approximately 110 units in 2019, making for about 90 minutes of marching bands, floats and candy tossed to kids. It will take the same route as in 2019, from Third Avenue Southwest and Sixth Street to the Rochesterfest grounds.
The schedule also includes some new events, kicking off with two 5K races supporting area nonprofits and adding an expanded live music lineup and a family fun field at Soldiers Field with inflatables and games.
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The theme for Rochesterfest 2021, named by Rochesterfest chair Judy Braatz, is "Let's Reconnect."
"This year it was obvious," Braatz said. "We hadn't connected with people for 15 months. I think 'Let's Reconnect' will apply to everything this year."
Braatz's theme emphasizes the opportunity for families to reconnect, as well as for Rochester residents to reconnect with local businesses and nonprofits, such as the Neuro Hospitality House and Family Service Rochester.
Helgeson said the theme is “spot on” as Rochesterfest offers residents the opportunity to get out after dealing with the pandemic for more than a year.
“We’re really trying to amp up,” he said. “We know that we're the first big event for Rochester coming out of this pandemic, so we want to deliver a lot of fun things to do, a lot of ways for people to reconnect.”
Saturday, June 19
Country Breakfast on the Farm, 6:30-11:30 a.m., Sheehan Farm
Once Upon a 5K (w/Family Service Rochester), 10 a.m.
Juneteenth Jubilee, 11 a.m.
Million Dollar Hole in One Qualifier, 1-5 p.m., Hadley Creek Golf Course
Blacklight Bubbl’r 5K, 8 p.m.
Sunday, June 20
Million Dollar Hole in One qualifier, 1-5 p.m., Hadley Creek Golf Course
Movie in the Park, 8:30 p.m., West Field
Monday, June 21
Family Fun Field at West Field through Saturday
Seffarine Music Workshops, 2-3 p.m. (Youth Enrichment program), 4-5 p.m. (Adult Enrichment program)
Ice Cream Social, 4-7 p.m.
Evening Entertainment by Six Mile Grove, 7 p.m.
Video Game Tournament, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, June 22
Million Dollar Hole in One Qualifier, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 3:30-7:30 p.m., Hadley Creek Golf Course
World Music Showcase Provided by Rochester Civic Music, 6 p.m.
Evening Entertainment by Loud Mouth Brass, 8 p.m.
Wednesday, June 23
Family Fun Night, 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Rochester Kids Have Talent, 6 p.m.
Evening Entertainment by White Keys, 8 p.m.
Thursday, June 24
Salute to Service (Law Enforcement/Military), 2-7 p.m.
Evening Entertainment by Hair of the Dog, 5-6 p.m.
Karaoke Extravaganza, 7 p.m. (audition 5:30-6:45 p.m.)
Friday, June 25
Bean Bag Tournament, 6 p.m. (registration 5-5:45 p.m.)
Million Dollar Hole in One Shootout, 6 p.m., Soldiers Field
Evening Entertainment by PopRocks, 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 26
Dachshund Dash, 11 a.m.
Pre-Parade Block Party, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Rochester Motor Cars Grand Parade, 2 p.m.
Party in the Park, 6:30-10 p.m.
Evening Entertainment by Time Machine, 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 27
1860’s Baseball, 4:30 p.m., 6 p.m.