The American Folk Festival said Tuesday that its summer 2019 edition of the 18-year-old festival was its last, and that the organization would dissolve at the end of the year.
In a press release sent out Tuesday, board chair Nicole Gogan said that there will be no festival in 2020.
The announcement brings to a close an event that brought thousands of people to the Bangor waterfront each August and, in the process, helped convince people that the waterfront was worth reviving and could even become a destination. In recent years, however, the festival has become a smaller version of itself with fewer performers and a drop in fundraising.
“Our board made the incredibly difficult decision to discontinue this festival,” Gogan said. “The decision to close was not made hastily, and was difficult for every person involved. This is a financial decision. The Board of Directors saw no clear path forward that could responsibly be taken. This is a tough, but responsible decision.”
While such a decision had been floated for some time, and the organization’s financial health had been in trouble for a few years, Gogan said, the official decision to end operations was made just this month.
“It’s been within the last few weeks,” Gogan said. “This is a very recent development.”
The festival began in 2002 as the National Folk Festival, a production of the National Council on the Traditional Arts that travels to a different city every three years; it started a three-year run in Salisbury, Maryland, this year. The National Folk Festival, on Bangor’s waterfront in 2002, 2003 and 2004, was the first large event on Bangor’s waterfront where a revitalization mostly had yet to happen.
Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.
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