By Dan Ruby
Strawberry Music Festivals today acknowledged the truth of rumors that the festival is in danger of losing its lease for the idyllic site where the event has been held twice a year since 1984.
In a detailed email posted to several lists, Strawberry management laid out the issues involved in the lease negotiations with the City of San Francisco Parks and Recreation Department, which is responsible for the property. The tone of the message was not particularly hopeful, but the message said the festival would make every effort to reach a settlement before August 18, which appears to be a deadline set by the festival so that it has sufficient lead time to make plans for a move if necessary.
The email also confirmed that the festival has been exploring the purchase of a property in nearby Mariposa County that is said to possess many of the characteristics of the Camp Mather location. The email said the festival would consider a more distant move if a "spectacular" venue presented itself, but seemed to imply that the preference is to stay in the same general vicinity.
It also plainly stated that the festival has every intention of continuing whatever the outcome of this issue, refuting rumors that management would shut down the festival rather than undergo a move.
Once before, Strawberry and SF Parks Rec went to the mat before reaching a new four-year deal. A letter writing campaign by Strawberry-goers was thought to have been helpful in that case, and now the festival has asked fans to contact city officials with their comments. Full information and addresses to write to are posted on the festival home page.
As I posted here earlier this week, a move like this will be a wrenching experience for the Strawberry faithful but other festivals have executed site changes with relatively little pain. An example is the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, which will debut its new site next month in upstate New York.
Strawberry management is to be applauded for its open communications with fans on this matter. If a move becomes necessary, this kind of advance warning to its fans will reduce the inevitable outcry when it is finally announced. One way or another, it seems there will be a resolution on or before the August deadline.
Friday, June 06, 2008
By Dan Ruby