Fox Valley Folk Music festival canceled

In Music
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July’s flood has washed out the 41st annual Fox Valley Folk Music and Storytelling Festival at Island Park in Geneva.

Organizers consulted with the park district this week and decided they did not want to put on a lesser quality festival than what visitors have come to expect.

“It just would not be an experience consistent with what we wanted to do,” Juel Ulven, president of the Fox Valley Folklore Society, said Thursday.

The festival was scheduled Sept. 3 and 4.

Ulven said he and several of the “core logistics” volunteers walked through Island Park Sunday, then met with the park district Monday. They all agreed the main site, a lawn near the pavilion, could not be used.

About 60 to 75 percent of the grass in the park was killed when it was covered by water from the Fox River for more than two weeks. The park reopened July 31.

The park district is starting to reseed the dirt.

“Two-week-old grass isn’t going to support any kind of foot traffic,” Ulven said.

He said the park district offered to let them use a less-damaged area on the northern end of the park. But that would have meant cutting back from eight stages to three or four. Besides performances, the stages are where artists conduct workshops, and the workshops are how the artists make most of their money.

It also would have involved using shuttles to transport people, and restricting most of the foot and vehicle traffic to the Fox River Trail.

“The layout was cumbersome and clumsy at best,” Ulven said.

The festival typically features 25 to 30 artists. Most do not live in the area. One performer was flying in from England. Canceling this far in advance gives them the opportunity to book gigs elsewhere, Ulven said.

Ulven estimates about 3,000 people come to the festival each day.

The only other cancellation was 10 years ago for the same reason.

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