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The End for East End Fest?

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Rochester: The End for East End Fest?
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The future of Rochester's popular East End Fest is in doubt. The Rochester City Council voted Tuesday to ban certain festivals that block city streets and charge admission.

The vote was 9-to-0, and with that, Rochester's East End Fest may have been deep sixed.

The law passed by City Council on Tuesday now outlaws any multiple-day city festival that blocks off city streets and charges admission.

The only exception is a festival that is one-day, once-a-year, which eliminates the popular, three-day East End Fest.

"Lots of festivals in the city that exist today, do a one-day festival, and they do just fine," said Tom Richards, (D), Rochester mayor.

Business owners here on the East End say a one-day festival wouldn't be much of an East End Fest at all. Of course revenues would drop, but they also say you can't replace the financial impact it would have on bartenders, waiters, waitresses and shop owners; all of whom would lose a lot of money.

"Eventually what's going to happen is there's going to be no East End Fest, to be honest with you," said Ronnie Davis.

Davis owns a trio of nightclubs in the Upper East End, just outside the festival's footprint.

"The Upper East End does significantly better business-wise on the nights that there's an East End festival, and in this economy and the way it is today, we need every boost we can get," Davis said.

"What the festival has done over the years has really made it a viable passage for people to come down, take a look and move to the city," said Moe Alaimo, owner of Havana Moe's.

Despite that gain, "Havana Moe" sees a different perspective: pointing out new housing nearby, he says perhaps the time has come to end East End Fest.

"I'm happy to break even if it's good for the city. I really do, I care about the city that much. A little money won't hurt me."

Festival organizers reached by phone say they have not decided the future of East End Fest. They do wish "that the voices of a few in power" had not drowned out the masses who enjoy East End Fest.

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