BANGOR, Maine — Organizers of the American Folk Festival have made the decision to end the festival and dissolve the organization.
After 18 years of attracting thousands of people from across the country to Bangor, organizers say the 2019 American Folk Festival was the last one.
“Our board made the incredibly difficult decision to discontinue this festival,” said Nicole Gogan, Chair of the American Folk Festival Board of Directors.
The American Folk Festival did not charge admission to patrons but instead relied heavily on donations, corporate sponsorships, and grants. Gogan said the corporate funding started to dry up making it difficult for organizers to meet their budget goals.
Gogan said, when the festival had five stages spread across the Bangor waterfront, it cost nearly $1,000,000 in fundraising to put on the event.
Even in a year with fewer stages because of construction challenges on the festival site, more than $600,000 had to be raised to keep the festival a no-admission event, according to organizers.
“There is no question that this festival has been an attraction, and a high-quality production every year,” said Kerrie Tripp, Executive Director of the Greater Bangor Convention and Visitors Bureau, calling the festival a "game-changer" for the city.
The American Folk Festival began as the National Folk Festival in 2002. The National Folk Festival selects a city or town in which to hold a festival for three years. At the end of the three-year run, the intent is for the festival to live on once the National Folk Festival moves to a new community. When the National Folk Festival finished its run in Bangor in 2004, the American Folk Festival became a reality in 2005.