CHILLICOTHE, Ill. (WMBD) — This will be the last year for the Summer Camp Music Festival, at least for a while, according to the man who has put on the annual festival for two decades.
In a Facebook post, Ian Goldberg said that doesn’t mean the music is ending nor does it mean there will be a festival at Three Sisters Park as there has been since 2001.
“However, due to various factors, Summer Camp Music Festival as we’ve all come to know it will be taking a hiatus.,” he wrote in the post.”
Goldberg said at one point the festival would attract more than 25,000 people from across the country. But he said in recent years, especially post COVID, Summer Camp has had declining numbers and issues competing with surrounding music festivals.
“The expenses and the logistics and truthfully the work involved in producing an event of this size has made it to the point where it’s made us re-evaluate what we’re doing,” Goldberg said.
He also said finding labor for the festival has been a challenge and supply chain issues have made the production difficult.
“We have to bring in our bathrooms and showers from two states away in a lot of cases and the golf carts come from other areas and just the cost of transportation for all those types of things have skyrocketed so much that it’s not worth all the work and pain it takes to take it,” Goldberg said. “We don’t see a return on the investment that we had seen previously.”
Goldberg said it was time for a change.
“We came to the conclusion that the best thing to do would be to look at how we can rescale it and make it something that will still be every bit as fun and every bit as personal for people,” Goldberg said. “I think the people that have been here for the 20-plus years are still going to come out and feel just as at home, but something that is more scalable for what the business environment is at this point with music festivals.”
“Again, the good news is that we still plan on throwing a redefined camping & music experience at Three Sisters Park every Memorial Day starting in 2024 that will be presented by Summer Camp,” he said in the Facebook post. “The challenges of throwing a mid-size independent music festival in the face of the big corporate festivals as competition both for fans and for artists, along with the logistical challenges (especially post pandemic) of throwing an event of this size in a small market in Central Illinois have had us reevaluating what we do for a while now.”
The 2024 rendition of the music fest will be different but likely feature the same feel as the current incarnation. Goldberg said the future music and camping events will be smaller and may have fewer bands and stages.
Michael Hughes, Chillicothe’s mayor, said the festival on average brings in $40k to $50,000.
“I don’t think it’s going to have much of an impact at all because he’s just gearing it for the number that he is having,” Hughes said. “It’s going to be a good thing, I think. I feel like, I agree with him. I believe it will be a good thing for Chillicothe too.”
But Goldberg also said it wasn’t the time to dwell on the future. Rather, he said, to make this year’s festival all the more special.
“So, this 2023 rendition of the Summer Camp Music Festival next week is going to be insanely meaningful for myself and everyone coming to join us. Let’s celebrate together like we never have before as we close this chapter of what once was, and anticipate what the future holds together,” he wrote online.
Goldberg said there is a chance Summer Camp could come back, but if not he hopes the future events they hold will offer the public the same feeling.