This weekend I had the opportunity to experience a lovely portion of Rochester’s artistic talent at its 5th annual Fringe Festival. Since its conception in 2012, the ROC Fringe Fest has attracted artists of all disciplines from all over western New York and the greater Rochester area - and it’s not hard to see why.
Upon reaching One Fringe Place on the corner of East Main and Gibbs Street, I was greeted with the smell of fried dough and the sound of children laughing as they colored the pavement with oversized pieces of chalk. A large fun-house/Bigtop-esque structure - known as the Magic Cristal Spiegeltent (named after the garden it takes up residence in, the Spiegelgarden) - loomed over over-sized board games and pop-up shops.
More than fifty talented performance groups are scheduled to play at the festival this weekend, and I was particularly invested in the interactive magnetic poetry boards set up by Geneseo Guerrilla, an anonymous group of artistic vigilantes who work to expose the community to local photography, poetry, and prose. Their work was speckled across the Spiegelgarden, alongside the “#FOMO” interactive sculpture and Fringe Fest merch tent.
Across the road, a dozen or so food trucks lined the sidewalk where children played hopscotch and bright rock music blared from the stage at the end of the alley. The atmosphere was warm, inviting, and full of energy - so much vibrancy tucked away amongst the grey hustle and bustle of one of New York’s largest cities. People of all walks and interests meandered the streets, some chit-chatting and drinking artisan lattes from the cool and quirky Java’s cafe, others basking in the last of the season’s sunlight. Everyone enjoyed the presence of one-another, and in my opinion there’s not much more you can ask for in city center.
If you live in the greater Rochester area, it may be too late to see this little slice of heaven this year, but I cannot recommend this event highly enough. The melding of cultures, artistic styles, and good vibrations is not an experience to be missed by any western New Yorker.