Jazz Festival preps for long-awaited return

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) – For the first time in three years the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival makes its triumphant return to Downtown Rochester.

Although it officially starts next Friday, the excitement is already building for several businesses that’s are hoping to attract as many new customers as possible.

Businesses we talked to are not only expecting people to come out and have a good time listening to jazz music, but also come out with money to spend.

"People love this festival. So I’m thinking it’s going to be the biggest one ever. That’s just my opinion," said Bernunzio Uptown Music Co-owner Julie Schnepf.

Stages for the 19th Edition of the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival like the one at Parcel 5 are already being set up for the start of the festival. Several blocks away preparations are also underway for the influx of customers at Bernunzio Uptown Music. Schnepf just can’t wait.

"We’re just thrilled that it’s back. So you know I think that it’s great for everybody down here, but for a music store, guitar store it’s especially you know exciting, and important for us," said Schnepf.

The pandemic forced the cancellation of the festival back in 2020, and 2021. This year businesses will benefit as hundreds of thousands of festival goers are expected to attend. Including both professional, and amateur musicians.

"Performers stop in and people just have an interest, so it piques their interest, and they’re out you know having fun so they stop in, and buy something. It does generate quite a bit of business," said Schnepf.

Restaurants will also get a piece of the action, hoping this will boost the local economy.

East End Tavern General Manager said, "Keep people you know working. Pay the bills you know. Just keep everything going."

Redd Rochester Restaurant on Winthrop Street is finally going to experience its first jazz fest after being open for 3 years.

"We’ve been waiting for this event to return downtown since the pandemic started," said General Manager Giovanna Galindo. She continued, "So to be able to be open again for such a big prominent event, and all of the free shows, the headliners, we just can’t wait."

Marc Iacona, Producer and Executive Director of the festival sent us this statement saying, "We’re thrilled to be downtown again. It’s been a long two years but we’re back, and our team has been working hard to bring people an amazing musical experience for nine days. The artists are excited to be coming. The venues are ready. The tents are going up. So we’re looking forward to welcoming everyone next Friday to share the joy of music and be together again."