Don’t mess with success?
That’s not the philosophy at the Rochester Downtown Alliance when it comes to the highly successful Thursdays on First & Third weekly markets.
This year’s season, which kicks off June 4, will feature new themed days, new restaurants, new arts and crafts vendors, and new musical artists
“For people who have not been here in a year or two, I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised by our new offerings,” said Jenna Bowman, executive director of RDA.
Let’s start with the theme days, which will be held every-other-week, primarily on Historic Third Street.
“It’s really intended to be an interactive experience,” Bowman said.
The theme for July 2, for example, is “Red, White & Blue.” “We’re encouraging our food vendors to do great American cuisine and see what creations they can come up with,” Bowman said.
For Aug. 6, Youth Day, there will be a petting zoo and a display of animals from Oxbow Park. Other planned theme days: June 11, Red Ball Project; July 16, the Great Outdoors; July 30, Wellness; Aug. 20, Pay it Forward, featuring local nonprofit organizations.
Also new this year:
— Grand Rounds Brewery and Half Barrel have opened since last year and they’ll be part of Thursdays on First and Third.
— New food vendors this year also include ZZest and Dunn Bros. Some returning food vendors are changing up their menus with new offerings, Bowman said.
— A total of 115 arts, crafts and food vendors are part of the market each week. Where is your favorite vendor’s booth located? “We’re going to have an online interactive map of vendors on our website each week,” Bowman said.
— “Some bands people haven’t seen in a while will be back,” Bowman said, pointing to Incognito and Chester Bay in particular. “The Nodding Wild Onions is another one people are excited about seeing,” she said.
What isn’t new is the crush of people invading the site each Thursday. If you’re crowd-averse, one of the best times to stroll through the market is mid-afternoon. The vendors are accessible and lines for food are relatively short. “That’s a good way to do a little bit of food-tasting,” Bowman said.
As for Bowman’s favorite times to enjoy Thursdays on First and Third, it’s early and late.
“Early in the morning, right when the market first kicks off, there’s a buzz,” she said. Then again, she said, “I’m always happy later at night, when things are cleaned up, there’s quiet downtown, and everybody’s had fun.”