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Calendar preview: A summer switcheroo 

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Our topsy-turvy 2020 has made a care-free summer a thing of the unspecified future. Rochester summer staples — festivals, cook-outs, theater in the park — aren't at all how we'd have imagined before the pandemic. Some simply aren't taking place at all. But for certain stalwarts, necessity and creativity turn what could have been into what we'll never forget.

Attending a social is not very "now," but Ionia United Methodist Church, who brought us June's Ionia Strawberry Social, gives it a twist at the Ionia Raspberry Social on Thursday, July 16, starting at 4:30 p.m. This year's socials are drive-thru affairs, with a menu full of grilled goodies and homemade desserts — all to-go — until they sell out.

Meanwhile, Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival of Music & Dance has grown into a summer classic, featuring four days of live music and camping down the road in Trumansburg. This year's streaming-only roster is just as massive, with "live" (from the archive) sets from organizers Donna the Buffalo as well as Danielle Ponder, the rousing Flying Clouds of South Carolina, and The Colorblind James Experience. From Thursday through Sunday, July 16-19, Your Roots at Home will present concerts drawn from the festival's nearly 30-year history, all online.

Another Finger Lakes music tradition, ChamberFest Canandaigua, continues this year with a free line-up of concerts, chats, Q & A's, and popular Classical Blue Jeans and Children's Concert events. The festival begins at 7:15 p.m. on Friday, July 17,  with pianist Audrey Andrist and continues on most days through Sunday, July 26. Registration is required.

If you can't resist a trip to Canandaigua, consider a Saturday visit to Ontario County Historical Society's 2020 Canandaigua Garden Tour, on Saturday, July 18, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Five local gardens will be on display for a driving tour that will offer inspiration and follow physical distancing rules. Tickets are $20.

Alas, poor Yorick! The Highland Bowl is like a graveyard without Shakespeare in the Park. Instead, the Rochester Community Players will present a mosquito-free original work that puts scene-stealing Falstaff in the spotlight. On Friday, July 17, at 7 p.m., RCP will livestream a reading of "The Last Days of Falstaff" by local playwright, director, and all-around talent Justin Rielly. $5 suggested.

The theater community is engaged in some important conversations right now. Grey Noise Theatre Co., with sparkling new artistic director Hector Manuel, will begin a free webinar series at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 15, called The Diversity Dialogues: BIPOC in ROC Theatre. In it, diversity and inclusion in local theater will be the focus, and all are invited. 

Our neighbors at Auburn Public Theatre will conclude their series, Racism in Your Community: From the Lens of Young Adults Speaking Their Truth, on Thursday, July 16, at 8 p.m. This series highlights the perspective of kids and teens who might not otherwise have a platform to express important thoughts and ideas.

Closer to home, Rochester Contemporary Art Center's current exhibit, Roc City Speaks showcases Rochester voices on racial injustice during the pandemic. The video installation will be on view at RoCo's East Avenue storefront window, Thursdays through Saturdays (2 to 6 p.m.), through September 2.

Further up East Avenue, on Sunday July 26, the anticipated reopening of the George Eastman Museum on will feature three new exhibitions. Gathering Clouds: Photographs from the Nineteenth Century and Today, James Welling: Choreograph, and History of Photography, with its current iteration examining the relationship between photography and feminist movements, all run through January 3, 2021. The museum will be open Wednesdays through Sundays.

George Eastman Museum continues its robust online programming of exhibits and talks, as well a weekly selection of films at the Virtual Dryden Theatre. On Friday July 17, at 1 p.m., the Dryden's expertise and insight will inform Focus 45: Cinema in a Time of Crisis, a timely discussion on the changing experience of current and post-pandemic movie-going. What it means for the medium and the audience will be the center of an online conversation between three Dryden all-stars: Jared Case, Curator of Film Exhibitions and longtime staff of the museum's Moving Images Department, will talk with previous Curator Jurij Meden, now at the Austrian Film Museum, and former Curator Jim Healy, whom Dryden fans may remember from 2001 to 2010. As we anticipate the Dryden's reopening, we can take a moment to see just how life determines art. Registration is required.

In Rochester, Pride month has traditionally been celebrated in July, but the pandemic has precluded the parade and picnic. But keep an eye out for Rochester's First Queer Handmade Yard Sale in Brighton this weekend, on both days from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Then on Sunday, July 19, Penfield Pride will be an outdoor celebration at Channing H. Philbrick Park, commonly known as Linear Park, from noon to 4:30 p.m. Bring a mask, a blanket, and prepare to physically-distance at the pavilion for some chants, speeches, and discussions.

If, with all this, you prefer to spend warm summer days indoors, you might enjoy the Quarantine Cat Film Festival, still streaming at the Virtual Little Theatre ($12).

Keep up to date with full listings of local online events on the CITY Events Calendar. Do you have an event you wish to include? You can submit online, or email event information to

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