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SPRINGING BACK TO LIFE: Rochester events and venues welcoming more people as restrictions gradually lift

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A past Thursdays Downtown event in Rochester

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- With Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz lifting more restrictions in the state, many people are already wondering what that means they can do for entertainment.

The event industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, especially the wedding industry. Just like many other Rochester events and venues, Blue Moon Ballroom is looking forward to increasing capacity to 50 percent.

"A year ago, it was traumatic," said Fred Gommels, Blue Moon Ballroom director.

Things are looking slightly better this year.

"Not only is spring in the air but with the restrictions lifted, there's liberty and freedom in the air," Gommels said.

Even though the governor has allowed wedding receptions to happen with few people, many couples have cancelled or postponed.

"We haven't really held a reception since last August," Gommels said.

The news of lifted restrictions is a relief for the ballroom. The 50 percent capacity rule means they can allow up to 125 people in the building.

"We got several receptions already booked in the springtime and quite a few through the summer and fall," the director said.

Limited to drive-thru events last year, Rochesterfest is looking to make a comeback in June.

"We're hoping we can do some stuff that's a little more interactive but that will be largely based on the pandemic," said Brandon Helgeson, Rochesterfest Executive Director.

The same goes for Thursdays Downtown.

"We're planning for a little smaller," said Katie Adelman, Rochester Downtown Alliance Director of Content and Communications.

With a tentative July 8 start, Thursdays Downtown will be held in some capacity, even if it includes virtual elements.

"We want to help support our businesses, the people and places that make it such a special place," Adelman said.

In addition to Rochestfest and Thursdays downtown, another Med City favorite will look a little more normal this year.

"We certainly hope that by the time we get to our season opener May 31, we may even be a little further open," said Jeremy Aagard, Rochester Honkers General Manager.

Current restrictions would allow 800 people in Mayo Field if the season started today. Last year, only 250 fans were allowed to watch the Honkers play and the team only faced a few opponents.

"72 games in 77 days is a full summer of baseball. 36 of those are at home. We're excited to get it going June 1st," Aagard said.

There are many ways this summer in Rochester to slowly get the community together once again.

"That's the theme," Helgeson said about Rochesterfest. "Getting people out and reconnected in 2021."

Rochesterfest will be held June 19 through 27. The event is always looking for volunteers as well as ideas for new events.

Alex Tejada

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