Bluegrass fans in central Connecticut will be without a primary destination event this season. For the past 16 years, the Podunk Bluegrass Music Festival has brought top artists to the area during the first weekend in August, but it appears that circumstances have colluded in such a way that their Board of Directors had no choice but to cancel the 2013 festival.
After 15 years in East Hartford, the festival moved from Martin Park in 2012 when the city withdrew its financial support. This occurred at the same time that the festival’s Executive Director, Roger Moss, was forced out of his position as Director of Parks and Recreation in 2011 by newly elected mayor, Marcia Leclerc.
Moss and Podunk found a new home in nearby Norwich for 2012, located about 40 miles southeast of the old location. Roger was hired as the city’s new recreation director, and arranged for the festival to be held in Dodd Stadium, the home field of the Connecticut Tigers, the Class A short season baseball team for the Detroit Tigers.
All went well for 2012, but a scheduling conflict emerged this year putting the team and the festival at odds for the stadium. The city’s contract with the team gives them first priority, and Podunk was homeless.
In a statement issued yesterday, Moss shared the board’s decision in a statement.
“The board immediately began searching for an alternate venue, and some locations looked promising. Various fairgrounds, parks, and public spaces were investigated for potential Podunk use. No location within the state was off limits if it could work. Some locations would have changed the nature of the festival to a town fair with multiple stages at various locations, and others, including Kelly Middle School in Norwich, were short camping space on site or priced out of range.
After months of effort, the board has not found a clear, long-lasting solution for Podunk’s home. In order to provide artists enough time to make alternate plans, the board believes it necessary to cancel the festival at this time for 2013, and devote our time and effort to the 2014 festival. The desire is to find a home for Podunk and develop the financial backing necessary to bring back a strong world-class festival in 2014 that can vie for Festival of the Year, just as Podunk was named in 2010.”
Fans who have already purchased tickets for 2013 are being given two options. Those who agree to convert the ticket fee into a donation will be offered free admission for the next event, and those who prefer to obtain a full refund will be eligible to receive them.
All advance ticket holders are requested to contact the festival and let them know your preference. You can do so by email, or by postal mail.
Podunk Bluegrass Music Festival
80 Brandegee Lane
Berlin, CT 06037
Let’s hope to hear soon that the festival has a new home for 2014 and beyond.