The East End Fest has been getting some heat lately but not half as much as those who oppose it. Between a petition at 400 strong, vague news pieces and a volatile facebook feed, this new uproar is alienating local business owners and defending the festival of drinking with what I see as assumptions and fallacies.
Though many have cried out, Joshua Headley, has come out of the woodwork to lead the opposition to opposition. Aside from making a brutal facebook attack against Mrs Bernunzio, owner of Bernunzio’s Uptown Music who criticized the Fest, he has a petition on Change.org, a letter to the city and has provided numbers of businesses that oppose.
Headley, in his letter, makes several points towards saving the EEF. Though his efforts are valiant, and in theory I support him, his points for the issue are questionable.
To start, he states that business in the East End benefits from the festival. This isn’t true.
Precedently, the festival only benefits bars.That’s six business out of some 300 existing in the area. From salons, to bookstores, to a library, to a music school, to a news agency, laundromats and law firms, the overwhelming majority of neighborhood tenants are resoundingly unrepresented in the current state of the fest. (Be what ever reason that is.)
He follows this with another assumption that businesses close at 6pm anyways, so the festival isn’t stepping on any shoes. This is also incorrect. Set up for the fest starts early in the day and cripples parking for the entire area. Business almost stops due to the gargantuan task of setting up the festival. The day time non-citites who need to conduct business are overwhelmed and cannot maneuver the city. Store front signs are blocked by early tents. Parking spaces taken by tables. Money is genuinely lost by those not participating in the night’s festivities.
He then goes on.
Headly says that the Festival was first, and “the revival of the area has been built on the backs of restaurants, bars, music, parades, and festivals.” But the East End isn’t the Public Market, it’s a bustling economy. The bars are supported by the thousands of people who hold jobs in the area and drink after work. The shops are supported by their astounding class and uniqueness. The neighborhood is entirely self sufficient.
Thus saying “businesses such as Java’s, Uptown Music, and the Contemporary Art Gallery would never have had customers if it weren’t for the trail-blazing contributions of events like The East End Music Festival, The Jazz Festival, and several of Rochester’s annual parades” is insulting.
I’m sure our readers agree that festival days are the worst times to go to Java’s. The coffee shop has stood alone and brought, introduced and seduced more city patrons than any festival ever will, (as I’m sure Green Wood Books has in its excellence, and hell, Moe’s for its smoking and liquor selection.) It needs to be understood that the End does not need the festival like the festival needs the East End.
Thus, let’s end the hateful irony that Bernunzio’s, a supporter of local music, can oppose the East End Fest. The shop holds more shows throughout the year than the festival does, and, at this state, couldn’t be a part of it if even if they wanted to. Do you think that they want to have drunks playing Free Bird on a $4000 dollar guitar?
Rochester, let’s call a spade a spade. The East End Fest is not a pinnacle of culture for our city. It’s a drunk fest, and that’s why it’s popular. Relax and know that organizing is not going to end local music in our city and be honest with ourselves. If we want to drink and watch music, let’s just use our festival ground, Manhattan Square. If we want to enjoy an area, let’s do so and keep the drinking by the bars.
And since I have a blog, I’m going to say something presumptuous,. If we need big festivals to bring suburbanites to downtown for one night, screw ‘em. One day they’ll realize all the potential Rochester offers. Or maybe they won’t.