BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- For the second year in a row, the Gathering of the Vibes musical festival will not be held this summer in Bridgeport's Seaside Park.
The festival's founder Ken Hays posted the news on the Vibes Facebook page Tuesday, saying that he had decided not to hold the popular festival in 2017.
"As you know, the music festival landscape is rapidly evolving, and with that evolution comes greater competition that is far more challenging for smaller, independent festivals like the Vibes," Hays said. "It is with this in mind that I have made the difficult decision not to move forward with Vibes in 2017. I too am disappointed and had hoped for a different outcome. However as the world changes, we must change too."
Hays and fellow organizers did not hold a Vibes festival in 2016, calling the decision to take a break "simply a pause, an opportunity for us to reflect on the memories, explore new and exciting festival initiatives while planning our triumphant return in 2017." A few months later the city announced that the festival still owed more than $700,000 in police overtime.
The massive, four-day festival of music, art and camping had drawn huge crowds since it was launched in 1996, with campers, vendors and music lovers converging on Seaside Park and taking over for a long weekend every summer.
Hays, a Grateful Dead fan and businessman, was at the helm of each festival since he first launched it with local promoter Bob Kennedy to celebrate the music of the iconic band following the 1995 death of frontman Jerry Garcia. It began as a tribute to Garcia known as "Deadhead Heaven – A Gathering of the Tribe” at SUNY-Purchase in 1996 before expanding into the four-day event in Bridgeport.
Hays said in his announcement Tuesday that he would stay in touch with attendees, and that this summer "a few, well-run, family-friendly festivals will be extending discounted tickets to the Vibes community. This offers us the opportunity to gather, camp and play together within exclusive VibeTribe camping areas."
He encouraged the Vibes community to get involved in their local communities and support live music.