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At-Home Entertainment: A Virtual Concert and Happy Hour

Amid all the updates and announcements surrounding COVID-19, we need some good news. Well here it is: a new concert and happy hour series is coming your way virtually! Find out how you can tune in to a streamed "live" music performance, support a local bar or restaurant, and make an impact on the Rochester community as a whole.

The Concept:

One could say Brandon Helgeson's life revolves around events. He owns an entertainment company that has a division of event production. He is the executive director of the Olmsted County Free Fair. And he is the executive director of Rochesterfest. COVID-19 has been an event like no other. One that has many unpredictable, ever-evolving components. This uneasiness with fluctuation made Brandon pause.

“The initial idea for a virtual concert came about as I was looking closer at how this [situation] was going to affect me and my contracted staff. I came to the realization of taking back control of things I could while helping others in my community in the process,” said Brandon.

The Partners:

Brandon brainstormed how to make the concept of a virtual concert work. It's a big undertaking for just one person. With the idea to take the three largest event entities in the Rochester area—the Rochester Downtown Alliance, the Olmsted County Fair, and Rochesterfest—he reached out to Holly Masek, RDA executive director.

"This may seem like a straightforward concept but the simple collaboration between community partners who play to their strengths to create an event in the here and now that hopefully shows the community a sense of hope. My wish is we can help our fellow human beings and realize we’re all in this together, no matter who we are, what we do, or where we’re from. To see the best in this situation and not the worst,” said Brandon.

The Event:

And thus Virtual Happy Hour, a virtual concert and happy hour series that aims to help support local businesses and area musicians and entertainers impacted by the COVID-19 situation, was born. The event will also benefit Channel One Regional Food Bank, which will pay it forward to community members affected.

The inaugural event in the series kicks off at 6 p.m. March 20 via Facebook Live. First billing is Push & Turn, a local reggae rock group based out of Rochester. Though we may be apart, the public can come together virtually to recreate the togetherness of a happy hour, support local businesses and artists, and donate to a good cause. For a list of downtown businesses offering take-out, delivery, or other online services, visit DowntownRochesterMN.com.

Celebrate what has been the end of a long week. Grab some food from a local establishment, pick up some beverages to go, and join live from your couch for a Virtual Happy Hour and concert!