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Organizers Hit Pause On Bridgeport's 2016 Gathering Of The Vibes

Gathering of the Vibes Founder, Ken Hays.
Gathering of the Vibes Founder, Ken Hays. Photo Credit: Contributed
Fans rock out in front of the main stage at Gathering of the Vibes in Bridgeport.
Fans rock out in front of the main stage at Gathering of the Vibes in Bridgeport. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
Attendees partake in a one-of-a-kind auditory experience in the Sonic Portal at the Gathering of the Vibes.
Attendees partake in a one-of-a-kind auditory experience in the Sonic Portal at the Gathering of the Vibes. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
The Word performs at Gathering of the Vibes.
The Word performs at Gathering of the Vibes. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
Several attendees danced with hula hoops while others relaxed in the sun at Gathering of the Vibes.
Several attendees danced with hula hoops while others relaxed in the sun at Gathering of the Vibes. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
David and Diane Maxwell of the New England Organ Bank at the Gathering of the Vibes festival in Bridgeport.
David and Diane Maxwell of the New England Organ Bank at the Gathering of the Vibes festival in Bridgeport. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- The Gathering of the Vibes storied music festival is taking a year off in 2016 after running for 20 years, the past 11 in Seaside Park in Bridgeport.

The news came in a letter Friday from founder Ken Hays posted on the festival's website.

"As you know, we pour our hearts and souls into producing this 'rare & different' festival, but after a seemingly never-ending amount of thought and deliberation between myself and those closest to me, I’ve made the decision not to move forward with Gathering of the Vibes in 2016," he said in the post.

The decision to take a break is "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," Hays said in his letter.

The Vibes, which has grown into a massive, four-day, music, art and camping festival, draws huge crowds, with campers, vendors, and music lovers taking over Seaside Park for the weekend.

The Gathering of the Vibes Music Festival has come a long way in 20 years, and Hays has been at the helm the entire way.

In 1996, Hays, a Grateful Dead fan and businessman, launched the festival with local promoter Bob Kennedy to celebrate the music of the iconic band following the death in 1995 of frontman Jerry Garcia.

The festival began as a memorial party for the late Jerry Garcia then known as “Deadhead Heaven – A Gathering of the Tribe” at SUNY-Purchase in 1996 and has since grown into a four-day event at Bridgeport's Seaside Park.

Performers in 2015 included Jam Band icons, The String Cheese Incident, Gregg Allman, Wilco, Weezer and Ben Harper, along with many more.

"Its a great time," Hays told The Daily Voice before last July's festival.

"Whenever you get a group of like-minded individuals together, magic happens," he said.

Hays and his team have seen quite a bit since the days of "Deadhead Heaven," but he ranks performances by the late James Brown and Jane's Addiction among his favorites in the first 20 years, he said in that interview.

Read the full release here .

Read about 2015 Gathering of the Vibes on The Daily Voice here.

See a videotaped interview with Ken Hays before the 2015 Gathering of the Vibes on The Daily Voice here.

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