Rochester Recreation Festival is coming to Spencerport

By on July 29, 2019
Devenish enjoying kayaking on the Erie Canal in Spencerport.

Devenish enjoying kayaking on the Erie Canal in Spencerport.

Mark your calendar for Saturday, September 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. because you’ll want to bring your family and friends to the first ever Rochester Recreation Festival or ROC REC FEST!

When Spencerport resident Simon Devenish, Director of the Spencerport Canal Museum, and Spencerport businessman Phil Demkos, owner of Café Macchiato, began exploring ideas to attract people to the west side of Rochester, they focused on what Spencerport has to offer: the canal, the towpath, a great park, two terrific museums and many popular eateries. The obvious direction was to capitalize on recreation opportunities and Rochester Rec Fest, “the idea,” was born. To turn that idea into a real event, Devenish and Demkos formed a corporation and are now looking for people to sign up as sponsors, vendors and volunteers. 

Sponsors may be businesses, groups or individuals providing initial funding. Vendors will be organizations that sell goods or services related to recreation and/or outdoor activities or promote recreation in their area. Volunteers are needed for a variety of administrative jobs leading up to the event as well as for set up and packing on the day of the festival.

“We know we will have to start small,” says Devenish, “but the more people we can involve in this new venture, the sooner we will have another annual event drawing people to our village for recreation, food and entertainment.” 

If the event is eventually successful enough to generate profits, that money will be put back into the Spencerport community in the form of scholarships and community grants.

Rochester Rec Fest will have something for everyone. The event, to be held at the Spencerport Firemen’s Field, will have five zones: an Activity Zone featuring games and physical challenges; a Vendor Zone, featuring products, services and ideas related to outdoor recreation; a Demo Zone where children and adults can be part of tutorials on everything from bicycles to yoga; a Food Zone and a Live Music Zone.

To long-time residents of the Ogden-Spencerport area, this might be reminiscent of the beginning of Canal Days and Christmas on the Canal. Both events began small and grew exponentially over the years as people came from all over Rochester to share in the charm of a small canal town.

Part of their decision to organize this new event now (as opposed to a year or two from now) is because of the extended closure of the Union Street bridge. Devenish and Demkos believe that creating an activity that will draw families to the village will be especially good for everybody’s business. 

Another focus of Rochester Rec Fest is to promote and encourage outdoor recreation. Devenish, who moved to Spencerport from Perth, Australia, says he has been involved in outdoor recreation all of his life, first with his family, then through the scouting program and now with his wife, Laura. “Growing up I enjoyed canoeing, kayaking, hiking, camping, cycling, even caving. Now my wife Laura and I live close to the canal in the village and especially enjoy cycling and kayaking.”

Demkos lives in Ogden and grew up in Churchville. He bought Café Macchiato, 123 South Union Street, one year ago and is eager to be a part of efforts that will bring people to Spencerport’s village center. “Obviously, as a local business owner, I have an interest in making Spencerport a destination for people. My parents own Riki’s Family Restaurant in Fairport and they’re also having to deal with the impact of an extended canal bridge closure. So while that situation is an immediate concern, I’m also committed to the long-term success of our community and being part of making that happen.”

Demkos and his family enjoy horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking and camping, some of the reasons he is a strong advocate for outdoor recreation. “My goal with Rochester Rec Fest is to promote community health and wellness with fun, challenging outdoor activities. Our long term goal is to encourage people of all ages to maintain a healthy lifestyle while taking advantage of the outdoors.”

Please contact Devenish and Demkos at info@rocrecfest.com immediately if you are interested in becoming a festival sponsor or vendor on Saturday, September 14. Groups, families and individuals willing to volunteer should also send a message to info@rocrecfest.com.

Provided information and photos

Festival Director Simon Devenish on the site of the Rochester Recreation Festival.

Festival Director Simon Devenish on the site of the Rochester Recreation Festival.