Thursdays Downtown, previously known as Thursdays on First, has returned to Rochester this summer after it was canceled by the pandemic.
Post Bulletin reporter Erich Fisher made his first-ever trip to Med City's classic summer event and shares the five things that caught his eye during the kickoff.
1. Shoulder to shoulder
If trying to find a parking spot for nearly 20 minutes wasn't my first sign of how busy today's Thursdays Downtown was going to be, then the herds of people and Mayo Clinic employees crossing between First Avenue and Second Street certainly gave it away.
I made my way down First Avenue, where it felt like a festival was taking place. People surrounded the stage with food in hand while listening to live music.
I could smell something amazing in the air, some combination of burgers and barbecue (more on that later), and as I continued down the street, I found myself ducking and weaving around the lines and eager people looking for the right vendor.
2. The food
There was a smell in the air I knew I had to chase.
I probably looked like a lost puppy trying to find its owner. I spun myself in a circle trying to hunt down the smell. Vendors such as Bleu Duck Kitchen, Taphouse, Newt's and Cameo drew long lines that snaked into the middle of an already busy street, but it was 2 Brothers Bar n Grill that was the source of the smell I was after. I bought myself a pair of brisket tacos and devoured them.
Becca Bekkaberge, who's been working the Cameo booth the past two summers, fed a constant line of customers for over an hour Thursday afternoon.
"Everyone seems to be excited that Thursdays (Downtown) is back," she said.
3. Art on wheels
As I focused on trying not to drop my tacos, I heard about a vendor allowing people to paint a small canvas by riding a bike.
Paul Ring mounted a drum that's cut open on the front of the bike, and by attaching the bike chain to the front wheel, the drum spins and throws paint on the canvas inside.
4. The live music
While I was there, I caught live performances from Raab Coates on Peace Plaza, then RavensFire on the First Avenue stage while I finished my tacos. For both performances, people camped out in chairs to enjoy their lunch.
Tonight, expect performances from Jeremiah Nelson Band and Jerrod Niemann on First Avenue, and Miloe and Rhino at Peace Plaza.
5. Day one appeared to be a success
Between the foot traffic, the food, the artwork and music, the day appeared to go off without issue.
Will it be sustainable all summer? A group of Mayo Clinic nurses thought so.
Shelly Shurson, who's worked there for over 40 years, said Mayo employees had been talking about Thursdays Downtown for weeks.
"We've always been looking forward to coming out to Thursdays on First, so we were pretty bummed when it got canceled last year, so we're just so happy we got it this year," she said.
Turnout for the cool, cloudy day was promising in the eyes of Lynn Neitzke, who's been a nurse at Mayo for 35 years.
"I'm not seeing (a lack of people) today, and it's not even a great weather day," she said.