ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is back and in-person on Saturday for the first time in two years. The Lilac Festival is bringing back its free concert series for the first time since 2019.

With the pandemic slowly becoming endemic, 2022 is taking shape for what is typically a normal year full of Flower City festival fun.

Or is it?

A cloud of doubt is currently cast over the 2022 Park Avenue Summer Art Festival, according to Monroe County Legislators Rachel Barnhart (D-24) and Linda Hasman (D-23). According to legislators, the festival “likely will not take place this year” because the business group behind the event has been unable to secure a new promoter to put on the festival.

Barnhart and Hasman co-wrote a letter to Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and Rochester Mayor Malik Evans Thursday, saying in part:

“We are sad to learn that the Park Avenue Summer Art Festival likely will not take place this year. The festival’s long-time promoter pulled out after the 2019 season. The pandemic led to the cancellation of the following two seasons. Unfortunately, the business group has been unable to find a new promoter to put on the festival.”

Barnhart and Hasman said the festival has been sustained through sponsorships and vendor fees over the years, and would likely require a promoter for a 2022 event to occur. They say if it’s not feasible for the festival to happen this year, the county and city should begin working with merchants and community stakeholders to begin planning for a return in 2023.

“There is not any time to waste if this beloved festival will continue,” Barnhart and Hasman wrote. “The festival typically attracts 250,000 people, which provides a huge boost to neighborhood businesses. Losing this tradition now and in the future would be sad for Park Avenue and our community.”

The Park Avenue Summer Art Festival, known colloquially and locally as Park Ave. Fest, is traditionally held over the first weekend in August and is a signature summer event for the City of Rochester.

Longtime festival producer Jeff Springut of Rochester Events — which organizes Rochester’s Lilac Festival, Party in the Park summer concert series, and more — announced in 2019 that his group was “passing the torch” on putting on the Park Avenue Festival. Springut said at the time that his group of festival producers took the event “as far as they could” and were “happy with the success” they achieved.

As previously mentioned, both the 2021 and 2020 editions of the festival were canceled due to the pandemic.

Peter Gines of Jine’s Restaurant on Park Avenue says the summer fest is always a solid time. “…a great atmosphere, a fun atmosphere, customers come out, neighbors come out.”

He says it’s a shame the extra foot traffic might not be coming. Gines says the celebration has a long-term impact on City natives and those visiting. 

“The name is out there, you keep your name out there, you keep Park Ave. out there, it’s on the forefront of people’s minds,” says Gines.

While nothing is official, Gines, speculating, feels it likely won’t happen. “It’s not something you can plan this late in the season,” he says.

“I usually go every year. It’s a time to gather with friends,” says Jyles Carley. Hearing it might be called off again, — he’s crestfallen. “That’s really unfortunate. I was really looking forward to it, especially with all the restrictions being lifted and whatnot,” he says.

Kat Vernon says if it’s called off, it’s a loss for the whole city. ‘It’s like a fun time for everyone in the community to come together and kind of party.”

John Rivera works at the Blu Wolf Bistro on Park. Fest or no fest, he wants to make it clear: he’s still going to be making milkshakes. “I care about the customers, because, like, I’m the milkshake manager over there. I make delicious milkshakes over there,” he says.

Officials from the county executive and mayor’s offices have not immediately replied to a request for comment. Officials from the Park Avenue Merchants Association have also not immediately responded to a request for comment.

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.