CITY Visits...The Puerto Rican Festival of Rochester 

For the first time since 2020, the Puerto Rican Festival of Rochester returned to Frontier Field. We talked to people reveling in the red, white, and blue-soaked cultural showcase of food, music, and dance from dusk to dark.

Photos by Matt Burkhartt. Interviews by Jeremy Moule.

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JANELISE DIAZ, 13
ROCHESTER, STUDENT

Is it important to you to show pride in your heritage?
"I like for people to know that I’m Puerto Rican. I like having it [the Puerto Rican flag] around when I come to this type of thing because I feel like I’m a part of it."

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RANDY CAMPANARO, 45
GATES, FOOD TRUCK CHEF

Do you come to the festival regularly?
"We come to this every year, even if it’s just for a couple of hours one day out of the weekend to come and hang out and be around our people and listen to our music."

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JUAN RAMOS FIGUEROA, 20
ROCHESTER, CUSTODIAN

What aspects of Puerto Rican culture are important for people to see?
"There’s a wide variety of people here, all colors, and no judging. It’s a free, open space where everyone can be themselves."

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KEYRA VEGA, 45
GREECE, OFFICE MANAGER

What's appealing about the festival and Puerto Rican culture?
"Everything we’ve got here — we’ve got Spanish food, we’ve got Spanish music, we’ve got people from Puerto Rico, and sometimes I’ll be around here, you can see the people that you haven’t seen for so long. Sometimes they come from Puerto Rico."

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GERRY CINQUINO, 63
CLEARMONT, FLORIDA, RETIRED

What brought you to the Puerto Rican Festival?
"My wife is Puerto Rican and we’ve been coming down here. When I was living here we’d come down quite frequently. We’ve been gone a couple of years so we were here visiting our daughter and family and friends."

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JOSEPH GIARRANTINO, 65
ROCHESTER, RETIRED

What brought you down to the festival?
"I just like to see the community get together and Rochester come back to life. It’s getting a good name again."

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RICHIE ROSA, 48
ROCHESTER, TATTOO ARTIST

What would you tell someone to  get them to come to the festival?
"We’ve always got the flavor. We’ve got the soul."

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JASON RIVERA, 41
ROCHESTER, TIN KNOCKER

Do you think this is a valuable event?
"We need a lot more stuff like this, a good spot where everybody can go and be safe."

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STEVEN TEJEDA, 18
SPENCERPORT, CASHIER

Was it important to you to learn Latin dance?
"I dance so much because growing up I had trouble speaking Spanish and by learning how to dance I could still communicate with others and join in on the fun, join in on the party, you know."

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ROSEMARY ORTIZ, 62
ROCHESTER, PARAPROFESSIONAL

A lot of people are wearing the Puerto Rican flag.
"In Puerto Rico, everybody’s proud. If you go to a concert in Puerto Rico everybody’s dressed like me. Nobody has brown and yellow and green and blue. No. You dress red, white, and blue."

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JIMMY RODRIGUEZ, 33
ROCHESTER, MACHINE OPERATOR

Does anything in particular draw you to the festival?
"Every year I just come down to see my people here, my friends and my family."

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FRANCIS HARE, 73
PITTSFORD, TEACHING ARTIST

You say you danced several styles but how does dancing salsa, bachata, and other Latin styles feel?
"It’s kind of a gut thing because once you start getting that swing and you’re dancing with that partner, you’re in a different kind of state of mind about it."

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