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Old Town School Cancels Folk & Roots Festival

By Alexander Hough in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 7, 2012 7:20PM

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The recent weather has us dreaming of summer, but our mellow has been harshed by the news that the Old Town School of Folk Music won’t be putting on its Folk and Roots Festival this year. According to Center Square Journal, the culprit is a cash-strapped and uncommunicative city:

“The city is trying to increase revenue but they’re not being completely forthright with the people creating these events,” said Jason Kraus, vice president of the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce. He pointed to significant hikes in the costs for permits and rental of Welles Park, a key Folk & Roots venue. Also swirling: rumors that the city is planning to reverse its practice of allowing festival vendors to tap into the city’s electric grid, forcing them instead to fall back on generator power.

“There’s a lot of gray area from the city,” Kraus said. Just in trying to determine the cost of reimbursing LAZ for lost parking meter revenue due to street closures during the festival, “We talked to them three times and got three different answers.”

That was from the Chamber VP, though. In another report, Center Square Journal relays the official line from Old Town’s executive director Bau Graves: Old Town wanted to feature its new building.

Whatever the reason, the school is now collaborating with the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce to put on Square Roots, essentially adding a larger music component to the already-in-the-works three-day outdoor counterpart to January’s Winter Brew. Square Roots, which will focus on local music, beer, and food, will take place July 20-22.

Square Roots should be good—great, even—but it’s a variation on a street festival theme found across the city throughout the summer. There was nothing like going to Folk and Roots and spending languid afternoons lying in Welles Park listening to a varied mix of local, national, and international acts.

Folk and Roots isn’t officially dead, although, like express bus routes, canceled civic perks tend to stay canceled. If you’re as bummed as we are, there’s a petition going around you can sign.