ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The magic of the Middle Ages comes alive this weekend in the Flower City.
The event will raise money for Mended Little Hearts (MLH) of Greater Rochester, a support group for children with congenital heart defects and their families.
“For three and a half years, I nannied my little cousin Miles, who was born with a congenital heart defect,” said Miranda M. Flores-Salvaggio, one of the Festivus’s creators. “He was supported through this organization.
“I thought this was a nice way of giving back to him, and saying ‘I still think about you all the time, and you inspire me, and you are the bravest and strongest kid that I know,'” she said.
Known colloquially as “Roc Win Ren Fest,” the event will feature characters in costume to celebrate the time period.
There will be four acoustic sets by Rochester band Continental Drifft, live as pirates and performing medieval style music, a blacksmith on site performing interactive demonstrations, puppet shows, tarot readings, chess matches, craft vendors, themed food offerings (like turkey legs), as well as the latest beers from Three Heads Brewing.
It’s a family-friendly event too, with an entire area of the brewery blocked off as the “Workshoppe” for kids to interact with “The Live Witch” — who will be leading arts and crafts, storytelling, a potion-making class, hair braiding, face painting, and more.
Center for Youth Earth Works will also be handling an outdoor fire pit to roast marshmallows for all ages. Speaking of all ages — there will be costume contests for kids and adults with a costumed parade and prizes for the winners. A raffle will also be held to benefit Mended Little Hearts.
The event is organized by Rochesterians Taylor Converse and Flores-Salvaggio, known respectively as “Carnival Cat Con” and “Ren Rat Randy.”
“We are excited to, in Renaissance style, raise awareness and money for MLH and to strengthen the artistic community here in Rochester, all while bringing some merriment to our Rochester community in this sleepy winter season,” said Flores-Salvaggio.
Flores-Salvaggio, or Ren Rat Randy, is a local artist who graduated from RIT with a degree in illustration, who is now a resident at The Yards Collective at the Public Market. Converse, or Carnival Cat Con, is a SUNY Brockport grad who is now a communications associate for Partners in Restorative Initiatives.
“I love winter, I love festivals, and I love Rochester, and i love the community of Rochester,” Flores-Salvaggio said. “Being a part of the art community here… It’s always been a dream of mine to bring all those things together.”
Converse shares that spirit as well.
“Renaissance has always been important to me,” Converse said. “When I was little my dad used to take me to the sterling renaissance festival, and I remember connecting with him and connecting with my siblings, and just feeling like I was in another world.”
“We wanted to bring that atmosphere back to Rochester, and connect with people here in the city,” Converse said.
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Snow this morning and rain this afternoon, but no matter the weather, ROC WIN REN is a 💯 go on March 1 at @three_heads_brewing. We’ve been hard at work crafting and organizing and can’t wait to share the magic of the incredible vendors and live entertainment — to benefit our partner charity Mended Little Hearts of Rochester! Time to start working on those costumes!
Together this creative duo has been hard at work for months in preparation for this event — painting signs, making props, designing puppets, organizing vendors, recruiting volunteers, and a whole lot more.
“It’s a unique theme,” Converse said. “It offers a range of activities for all ages and it’s during a season where festivals are scarce in Rochester.”
The production of the Roc Win Ren Fest is all volunteer based.
“Us hosts, entertainers, vendors, and the pre-production team have volunteered to take time into putting this together,” Flores-Salvaggio said. “In doing so, we’ve all created a connection within our community. It’s truly been a humbling learning experience.”
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“Letters are signs of things, symbols of words, whose power is so great that without a voice they speak to us the words of the absent; for they introduce words by the eye, not by the ear.” — Isidore of Seville Posters are going up, keep your eyes out and ears open for town criers out and around and we doth see you soon!
Converse says she hopes this is just the first of many events like this.
“Absolutely! We would love to do this annually, with hopes to make it bigger and better each year,” she said.
Join in on the fun from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. this Sunday at Three Heads Brewing on Atlantic Avenue. Admission to the event is $5, kids 3-years-old or younger are free, with proceeds benefiting Mended Little Hearts.