BANGOR, Maine — American Folk Festival organizers and local public safety officials announced Friday afternoon that because of high winds and heavy rains anticipated with Hurricane Irene’s approach, Sunday’s folk festival events have been canceled. Friday and Saturday’s events will proceed as originally scheduled.
Police, fire and emergency preparedness officials made it clear during a meeting held at noon Friday at City Hall that public safety was their primary concern and that the joint decision between the city and the folk festival’s board was made with that in mind. The decision to cancel Sunday’s events is also to ensure that festival-goers have time to plan to attend on Friday and Saturday.
“Fortunately, Friday and Saturday’s weather look good, and the performance lineup is the strongest that it has ever been,” festival chairman John Rohman said in a statement. “The Festival is looking forward to welcoming our audience to two full days of performances, crafts, food, Folklife, and Children’s Activities.”
Primary concerns driving the decision to cancel included the possibility of high winds lifting untethered objects such as portable toilets and garbage cans, endangering people and property. The Waterfront Concert stage is approved to withstand winds of up to 70 mph and both the Penobscot Stage tent and Dance Pavilion tent have been bolstered with concrete and deep tent stakes to make sure they can withstand winds of up to 65 mph.
Winds are expected to reach 25 to 50 mph, with gusts up to 74 mph.
“Public safety is priority No. 1, and we want to make sure we give people plenty of time to plan ahead,” said Bangor Fire Chief Jeff Cammack.
There are also concerns about public safety resources being spread too thin in the event of flooding or large-scale power outages. Festival organizers want to give ample time to vendors and festival staff to tear down and pack up before Sunday’s storm, which was anticipated by the National Weather Service to hit the Bangor area early Sunday afternoon.
This is the first time any portion of the folk festival has been canceled, though it is not the first time it has been affected by rain and other bad weather. The festival has insurance in the event of a weather emergency, so financial losses associated with Sunday’s cancellation will be eased in some way.
Saturday’s folk festival schedule will change, and updates will be available at bangordailynews.com as soon as they are available.
All performers scheduled to play on Sunday will already have performed on Friday and-or Saturday, so festival-goers still will be able to take in the full breadth of music set for the weekend.