1A Peace Plaza expands calendar of events

By Matt Russell

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Warmer outdoor temperatures have recently brought with them another sure-fire sign of spring: Restaurant seating areas being set up on the Peace Plaza in downtown Rochester.

The warm-weather months promise busy days for more than just restaurants at the plaza this year. Established events are expanding, new events are being added, and other new offerings could make the downtown gathering spot a more inviting place to spend time throughout the week.

Here’s a look at what’s planned at the plaza, which connects Mayo Clinic’s Gonda Building and the Shops at University Square:


  •  An expanded Thursdays on First Street Market. The weekly market will stay at the plaza this year with vendors and a stage for live performances. The market could nearly double in size, however, as plans call for extending it along to First Avenue Southwest. That street would be closed between Second Street Southwest and Historic Third Street to make room for added vendors and a second stage for performances, said Heidi Mestad of the Rochester Downtown Alliance. The market runs June 11 to Sept. 10.
  • Weekly movies. Details are still being worked out, but screenings are planned on the plaza either one or two nights a week, with films being projected on the side of Mayo Clinic’s Siebens Building.
  • Games on the plaza. Starting this summer people may be able to borrow bocce ball sets, bean bag toss games, and chess sets from the plaza’s information kiosk. Next summer the plaza could feature tables with chessboard tops, Mestad said.
  • More music. A stage will be set up on the west side of the plaza for most of the summer, allowing for performances on weekday afternoons, according to Mestad.
  • A big new event. On Aug. 22, the plaza will host a blues and barbecue festival as part of a new downtown festival called ARTigras. The Rochester Arts Council hopes the festival, which it is organizing, becomes an annual event.

Other upcoming plaza events include a Cinco de Mayo celebration on May 5 and the Beach Blanket Comedy Show autism fundraiser on July 29.
The longer plaza events keep happening, the more people will rally around them, Mestad said.

"People just need to see the consistency there, that things are happening," she said.

Page A4: Plaza ready for a few fix-ups

For more information, go to

ARTigras information

Rochester Downtown Alliance

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