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 Rochester Fringe Fest founder Ciara Sosnowski shares a few laughs with the bands during last year’s Rochester Fringe Fest.

Rochester Fringe Fest founder Ciara Sosnowski shares a few laughs with the bands during last year’s Rochester Fringe Fest.

Photo provided by Ciara Sosnowski

New festival aims to highlight student artists, musicians

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published March 19, 2019


ROCHESTER — Oakland University student Ciara Sosnowski is hoping to bring an art and music festival to Rochester this summer.

Sosnowski, 19, a recent graduate of Rochester Adams High, created the Rochester Fringe Fest — a nonprofit art and music festival for students — last year.

“I was very aware of all the amazing students around me that had so much artistic passion and talent, and it made me really sad, because they weren’t getting the recognition that I thought they deserved,” she said.

So she embarked on a journey to create a place for students to come together and celebrate what they do best: the Rochester Fringe Fest.

“Rochester Fringe Fest is a festival, it’s a community, but most importantly, it’s a family,” she said. “Our mission statement is to provide students with a community to support their artistic passions and work to grow their artistry, while building relationships with others who share their interests and push them to excel in their craft, all while benefiting our community in a creative and unique way.”

Although the first festival was open only to students of Adams High School, it drew 400 attendees, 45 student artists, 10 student bands, three food trucks and vendors last May.

This year, Sosnowski is hoping to grow the festival — opening it up to all of the district’s high schools, as well as to students attending Oakland University — and move it to Rochester Municipal Park.

“This year, we approximate that we’re going to have 1,000 in attendance — 100 artists, 15 student bands, and three to four food trucks and vendors,” Sosnowski said.

The Rochester Fringe Fest founder recently appeared before the Rochester City Council asking to hold the event in the park 4-9 p.m. June 7. The council unanimously agreed to hold the date for the event, but asked Sosnowski to come back with a firmer plan in regard to the event layout and other logistical details.

Rochester Police Chief Steve Schettenhelm said he’s working with Sosnowski to make sure the event will be a success.

“She’s very interested in making sure that it’s a successful event,” he said. “I have been impressed by her attention to detail and responsiveness. … Her planning is not done, and my help with that is also not done. Any event that happens in the city, we take on a responsibility to make sure that it’s as successful as possible — not only for the city, but the persons that are responsible.”

Sosnowski said the Rochester Fringe Fest is currently in discussions with the Paint Creek Center for the Arts for a possible partnership with the event.

The Rochester Fringe Fest will return before the Rochester City Council for final approval during an upcoming council meeting. For more information about the festival, visit