The Gilbert Folk Festival, a free annual community gathering that features singers and songwriters from all over the state of Arizona, has been cancelled. According to organizers, the Town of Gilbert notified event organizers that they would need “additional permits never required in the past and that it would not honor previously contracted rates for space at what was the St. Xavier Building.”
Organizers say that because of the short notice, they “had to decide between coming up with several thousand more dollars to hold the event, or continuing the event with less than half the stage performances and workshop space available.”
Launched in 2011 by long time Folk Music supporter Robert Zucker, the Festival initially had a three year run before it was shelved for a year due to lack of funding. In 2016, local small business owners and Gilbert residents Becky Cholewka and Shanna Tingom came on as sponsors and brought the festival back. The 2016 Gilbert Folk Festival was the biggest with more than 70 acts of live music on six stages throughout historical downtown Gilbert.
Organizers say they decided to cancel the event “out of respect for the sponsors who were no longer guaranteed the advertising exposure they paid for.” Title Sponsor Becky Cholewka, stated “It’s just sad. This was a great Festival to spotlight our Heritage district, small businesses, and local artists. Although the Town likes to say it’s ‘Open to Business’ its actions continue to be a roadblock for small businesses who are trying to contribute to a vibrant community.”
Organizers are currently in the process of contacting sponsors to refund monies paid to host the event and to cancel all talent that was booked to perform. Gilbert Folk Festival founder Robert Zucker stated, “For the past 37 years, the time I have been in Arizona, I have given of myself physically, mentally and financially to support our world of Folk Music. In 2011, I had a dream come true when we launched the first Gilbert Folk Festival. I am devastated.”