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Bangor Will Forgive American Folk Festival’s Remaining $104,000 Debt

Linda Coan O'Kresik
Bangor Daily News
Members of the John Bapst Memorial High School band play for the crowd gathered at Railroad Stage following the parade to kick off the start of the 2019 American Folk Festival on Bangor's waterfront.

The Bangor City Council approved on Monday evening a motion to forgive the remaining debt the American Folk Festival owes to the city and terminate its agreement with the festival to use the Bangor Waterfront during a weekend in August.The American Folk Festival, which recently announced it would close after nearly 20 years, asked the city to forgive the approximately $104,000 debt it owes, before the organization officially disbands Dec. 31.

The motion was passed unanimously, with councilor Dan Tremble noting that the festival had already paid down more than $200,000 in debt since the city stopped extending a line of credit to the festival in 2010.

Councilor Ben Sprague said he believed the festival would live on in its overall impact on the city, and he remained hopeful that a new event would rise up in its place in the years to come.

“I think we all appreciate what the folk festival has done for the city, and I think Bangor has certainly received a return on its investment,” he said.

In November 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 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.

This story appears through a media sharing agreement with Bangor Daily News.