Monte Imming easily maneuvered Murphy, Cooper and Boji through Peace Plaza on Saturday morning.
The three golden retrievers eagerly mixed with the other canines on leashes as part of the Rochester Downtown Alliance’s Dogs Downtown event, but it wasn’t Imming’s first stop of the day.
“I already did the (Rochester) Farmers Market,” the Rochester resident said, adding that he’d likely stop at the Med City Arts Festival before leaving downtown.
The dog event and the art festival were two of four events happening Saturday in downtown Rochester, with countless others occurring throughout the city and region, on a picture-perfect day in early fall.
Saturday afternoon and evening also featured the Rochester Mobility Fair on the block in front of the Rochester Public Library, which highlighted transportation options, and the summer’s third Night Market, featuring a variety of food and entertainment on the Mayo Civic Center plaza and in the Rochester Art Center.
So many events, it was just about impossible to choose to only one.
“It’s nice to have a lot of things to do,” said Kara Heimer of Austin, who was at the art festival on her way to Dogs Downtown with her sons, Noah and Knox.
Stewartville’s Colleen Swygman, who works in downtown Rochester, said she rarely visits during the weekends, but having so much to do made Saturday’s visit worthwhile as she watched her grandson Tatum create some art at the Gallery 24 booth on First Avenue Southwest before she and Tatum took her chihuahua, Stewie, to Peace Plaza to be with the other dogs.
“Since we’re coming from out of town, that’s good,” she said of the added activity.
Later in the evening, Rochester resident Bridget Bordelon said the Night Market is what drew her downtown. After missing the first two events, she didn't want to let the third go by without visiting the cultural event.
"It's nice to have an event to come downtown for, because I don't come down as often as I could," she said.
Holly Masek, executive director of the Rochester Downtown Alliance, said continuing to add weekend activities downtown is the goal, and Saturday's stuffed schedule demonstrated the potential benefits as people and dogs packed Peace Plaza and others strolled down First Avenue for art exhibits and even more took in the mobility fair exhibits or the Night Market.
“I think downtown has reached that point we were hoping for, where people really see it as an extremely central, accessible, fun location to hold an event,” she said.
She said it also provided easy access to other events Saturday, such as Porchfest in Kutzky Park, meaning people could find an entire day of activities without long drives.
“The Mobility Fair really highlights how accessible downtown is,” she added, noting bike and pedestrian amenities, electric scooters and expanding transit opportunities mean fewer people need to worry about cars if they want to take in the downtown activities.
Nick Lemmer, Rochester Public Transit’s marketing and outreach coordinator, said holding the mobility fair as the third and final night market of the summer was gearing up was intentional, to draw more people to consider options for moving around the downtown core.
He said it paid off with a few hundred people stopping by after being at one of the nearby events or the library.
Tiffany Alexandria, who organized the Night Market to feature a variety of food and entertainment, said she appreciates that the event’s popularity encourages others to add downtown activities, but she also cited a desire for greater coordination.
“I just wish that all of us could work a little bit better together,” she said.
Julie Johns, organizer of the Med City Arts festival, also voiced a desire for more collaboration. She hopes to join marketing efforts with Dogs Downtown and any other overlapping events next year.
Tanner Nelson, who discovered the art festival on the way to Dogs Downtown with his family and pet, said it was a good addition to the day. The plaza space seems ideal for multiple events, he said.
“I like the setup of it,” he said of the Peace Plaza and First Avenue connection.