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Answer Man: It's the end of Rochesterfest as we know it

Rochesterfest button 2014

Dear Answer Man, you may already know this, but I've heard that in part because of Thursdays on First and more directly because of the Civic Center project that this will be the last Rochesterfest.

Believe me, if I had known this prior to checking my email Friday, you would have read it by now.

I called Carole Brown, who's been the executive director of Rochesterfest for 22 of the festival's 32 years, and she confirmed it: "This will be the last year and after the fest, we will be in meetings because we will have to move."

I asked Carole if the festival area — on Civic Center Drive and First Avenue Southeast, wonderfully convenient to the world headquarters of the Post-Bulletin — had to move because of the looming $81 million Mayo Civic Center expansion. She said yes.

The longer answer, though, would be that the rampant success of Thursdays on First has taken a big bite out of the rationale for the Rochesterfest food court, which helps pay the freight for the festival, which is now underway and runs through next weekend. Rochesterfest is about a lot more than corn dogs and waffle cones — the parade all by itself is one of the year's biggest attractions — but bills must be paid, and the food court is a big part of that.


Carole said she prefers not to say more about it at this point, but meetings with city officials are set for early next month, and she's hopeful that a new location can be found, presumably outside of downtown. But as it stands, and I double-checked terminology on this, it's correct to say that this is the last Rochesterfest, in lieu of any plans for next year.

If that's the way it turns out, it would be a terrible loss for summer in Rochester.

Dear Answer Man, is it accurate to say that the farmers market on Fourth Street Southeast is the "downtown" farmers market ? I don't think of that area east of the Zumbro and south of Bear Creek as downtown. — Green Jeanne

Neither do I, and most maps I see of downtown Rochester tend to stop at Third Avenue Southeast on that edge. That's how it was defined in the 2010 Downtown Master Plan , which I'll link to online. The boundaries are changing fast, though, and just wait until the University of Minnesota Rochester campus begins stretching the southern boundary, and the planned new bridge over the mighty Zumbro at Sixth Street Southeast is built.

On the west side, the demolition — or if you prefer a developer's euphemism, the "disassembly" or "deconstruction" — of the former Chardonnay house is a prelude to whatever Mayo has in mind for the Second Street corridor between Saint Marys and downtown.

In other words, the definition of downtown is currently as flexible as Gumby .

Regardless, the farmers market is one of the near-downtown's great attractions, and even more so today, with the Radish Magazine Healthy Living Fair running alongside.

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