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Summer Camp Music Festival is on a 'hiatus' after this year's event

Summer Camp Music Festival / Facebook

The Summer Camp Music Festival held annually at Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe will be taking a hiatus after its final event next weekend.

That's according to a statement released by festival producer Ian Goldberg.

In an interview with WCBU, Goldberg states the challenges of throwing a mid-size independent music festival in the face of corporate festivals creates competition for both fans and artists.

"When we started, we were one of the few handful of...truly, you know, bigger music festivals that had happened, and so people would travel from all over the country to come to our festival. And, you know, the explosion of new events that have been out there, even since the pandemic, it's just been amazing how many new things have popped up," Goldberg said.

Goldberg said it's difficult to entice talent and festivalgoers to Central Illinois when there's other, larger festivals being held in Chicago, St. Louis and Indianapolis.

Not only has the talent attraction proven difficult, but Goldberg said acquiring the necessary resources has been a persistent challenge, especially post pandemic.

"Everything from porta potties and bathrooms to golf carts, to radios, to staffing. Staffing's been a significant challenge since the pandemic has come around," Goldberg explained.

Goldberg said internally, some key staff members who used to help organize Summer Camp have moved on to other opportunities. Additionally, he said he's already had to cut golf carts from different departments that need them for this year's upcoming festival due to lack of availability.

"It just makes it really challenging to continue," Goldberg said.

This is why Goldberg and his team at Jay Goldberg Events and Entertainment are setting their sights on a new event expected to begin in 2024 at the same location. While he noted that he would like scale back the event to make it more manageable, making the Summer Camp Music Festival smaller under the same name just didn't feel right for him.

"People have come to expect a certain element from Summer Camp, you know? When people look at our lineup, one of the comments I often get is, you know, 'it's so many bands,'" said Goldberg. "If I were building the festival today, there's no way I would build it the way that it is, you know, because it's a different marketplace out there," he said,

Thus, Goldberg said he would like to move forward with something completely fresh and new.

"So we have a clean slate and don't have all the expectations of what Summer Camp has become over those 20 plus years," Goldberg explained.

While Goldberg said he didn't feel comfortable commenting yet on what exactly this new event would entail, he described it as a redefined camping and music experience that will still feature a diverse lineup of music and the sense of community that the festival has become known for.

Though Goldberg said, "never say never", he doesn't anticipate the current Summer Camp Music Festival as the public knows it returning.

Summer Camp Music Festival started in 2001 and is produced by Jay Goldberg Events and Entertainment. The event features a number of artists and performances across multiple stages over the course of three days, as well as camping. This year's festival kicks off May 26 and continues until May 28. Find more information here.

Jody Holtz is WCBU's assistant program and development director, All Things Considered host, as well as the producer of WCBU’s arts and culture podcast Out and About.