Rochesterfest is for everyone
With a new executive director comes new events and activities to this year's Rochesterfest.
Rochesterfest will start Saturday and continue through Sunday, June 26, at Soldiers Field Park, where there will be events and activities for all ages, live performances, and a variety of festival food from 30 vendors.
In February, Brent Ackerman was named the new executive director of Rochesterfest, following the retirement of Carole Brown, who had served that position for 24 years. Previously, Ackerman was the operations manager for Townsquare Media in Rochester, which owns many local radio stations.
Ackerman has been involved with Rochesterfest for several years. First getting covering the event through the radio stations he worked with, he soon became a volunteer. Through the years he became part of the Rochesterfest board of directors, became chairman of Parade Scripts, co-chair and host of Celebrity Game Night, and finally became the Rochesterfest chairman in 2015 before receiving the executive director position.
"It's a great community event, and as a volunteer you see the joy it brings to the community," he said.
Ackerman said that being executive director is a lot of work and has been a real learning experience, but he's happy to be part of something that he cares about deeply and is passionate about.
"It's a lot of work, but when I see the kids running around and having fun I know that the hard work will all be worth it," he said.
Ackerman has planned several changes to this year's Rochesterfest, including new midday themes. Monday will be Freedom at the Fest, a day that will have an eagle demonstration and patriotic crafts. Tuesday will be Arts at the Fest with many events, including adult and kid coloring. Wednesday will be Community Day, in which people will be able to get involved with various organizations through a volunteer fair. Lastly, Thursday's theme is Pets at the Fest, where people will be able to bring their own pets to the fair as well as be able to adopt from Paws & Claws and Camp Companion.
Old favorites will also have an appearance at this year's Rochesterfest, including the parade, theme nights, and "Party in the Park." With 70 events scheduled during the nine-day festival, Ackerman said that everyone will be able to find something that they will enjoy.
This year's theme for Rochesterfest is "Fun for Everyone." Picked by Chairman Bob Nowicki, Ackerman said that the theme was chosen with the idea of inclusivity in mind and to encourage everyone to get involved in Rochesterfest.
"Rochesterfest really is for everyone," said Ackerman. "Everyone is welcome."
This is the second year that Rochesterfest will be at Soldiers Field Park, having been moved from its previous location on Civic Center Drive and First Avenue Southeast. Ackerman said that the move has been met with a lot of positive feedback from members of the community.
"People really enjoy the open space and being able to let their kids run around," Ackerman said. "It's our new permanent home."
Ackerman said his number one hope for Rochesterfest is that there will be great weather. Other than that, he said that he looks forward to once again seeing the smiling faces and the good spirits that appear during Rochesterfest.
"I know that the community will continue to support Rochesterfest, and anyone who wishes to get involved and volunteer will be welcomed with open arms," Ackerman said.