The American Folk Festival, which recently announced it would close after nearly 20 years, has asked the city of Bangor to forgive the approximately $104,000 debt it owes the city, before the organization officially disbands Dec. 31.
The City Council will vote on the request to forgive the debt at its Monday night meeting. The council will also vote on terminating the festival’s agreement with the city to use the Bangor waterfront park over its festival weekend, traditionally held the weekend before Labor Day.
Between 2005 and 2010, the city extended a line of credit to the organization that sponsored the festival, and provided between $75,000 and $85,000 in grant funding each of those years. The organization still owed the city approximately $104,000 when it announced the festival’s closure.
That announcement came last month, when American Folk Festival board chair Nicole Gogan said the folk festival organization would disband at the close of 2019, and that the 2019 festival was its last event, after 18 festivals. She cited the group’s ongoing financial troubles as the main reason behind the decision.
The festival had in more recent years experienced a dramatic reduction in funds raised and its physical size. By 2017, the most recent year for which tax data are available, total revenue had dropped more than 40 percent from its peak to about $625,000.
The 2019 festival featured just 14 artists performing on three stages — down from 24 artists performing on six stages a decade ago.
The termination of the festival’s agreement with the city would free up the weekend of Aug. 21-23 for other events to be scheduled, such as other festivals or concerts at the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion.