Fringe Festival celebrates seasoned, emerging local artists in Rochester area

Rochester’s East End was bustling more than usual as the fourth annual Fringe Festival attracted thousands of eager attendees. The Fringe—one of Rochester’s newest art festivals—focuses on bringing the spotlight to over 500 multi-disciplinary performances over the span of 10 days. From one-man plays to an all-female Celtic band to traditional visual arts displays, the Fringe is a delightful mix of visual and interactive art. It seemed as though all of Rochester’s finest professional and amateur artists had come out to show off their talent.

Outside of the Eastman Theater, artists live-painted while listening to music. These artists also talked with interested passersby. Meanwhile, University of Rochester art students decked out the inside of a Rochester Transportation Systems bus, turning it into an interactive gallery.

Events happened all day—from 9:30-12 a.m.—and at the center of it all is the Gibbs Street Main Stage. This stage is conveniently located in front of Java’s Café, where a rotating cast of performances were showcased throughout the day.

Snowbelt Morris—a group of traditional English dancers—performed near The Little Theater, another Fringe Festival hot spot. Accompanied by an old-school flute, these dancers wore leg-bells and waved handkerchiefs while dancing together in a square.

Down at The Little Theater—a five-minute walk from the Main Stage—was the Rochester Institute of Technology Photo House with a slew of short theatre productions and more musical performances. The Photo House exhibit featured photographs from various RIT students and gave its viewers complementary copies of RIT’s literary journal Signature.

Inside the Little Café, attendees sat at tables to eat and drink while singer-songwriter-keyboardist Joan Burch performed her original “Weird Songs.” Burch’s whimsical tunes attracted a large audience, filling every table in the café.

Back at the Main Stage, the crowd had grown significantly. The outside tables at Java’s were filled—as were the small tables and benches set up in front of the stage—and people had even brought their own folding chairs. I sat on the curb to watch Grey Light, an indie soft rock band.

It began to rain halfway through Grey Light’s set, but that didn’t bother festivalgoers. They simply pulled out their umbrellas and continued to nod their heads along to the music. The crowd even stayed for the next act, which was a women’s Celtic band called Triskele.

A far cry from Grey Light’s piano, drums and electric guitar combination, Triskele sang both traditional and contemporary Celtic music, performing in both English and Gaelic. I listened and watched from the comfort of Java’s front window as Triskele got adults and children alike dancing to their upbeat tunes.

Don’t worry if you fear you lost your chance to immerse yourself in Rochester’s art scene—the Fringe Festival continues until Saturday Sept. 26. You might even get a chance to see some of your classmates and friends from Geneseo performing for live audiences on Sept. 26.

Geneseo performances will include “Stories a La Mode” by Geneseo Creative Writing students, Geneseo String Band, Geneseo’s All A Cappella Hour, No Laugh Track Required, Geneseo Honors Recital, “Party Worth Crashing” and a musical written and directed by Geneseo students.

Don’t worry about emptying your wallet either—most of these performances are free or cost between $10–15. Fringe is a festival that’s not to be missed, especially by avid art and music fans.