Festival of Friends returning to Gage Park

News Oct 26, 2016 by Graham Rockingham The Hamilton Spectator

The Festival of Friends is coming home.

The Festival announced Tuesday through a short video on Twitter that it will return to Gage Park after being staged for six years at the Ancaster Fairgrounds.

"In 2011, the Festival of Friends was forced to move for a myriad of reasons including unresponsive leadership at city hall," the video says to the accompaniment of Skylar Grey singing "I'm Coming Home."

"In the past few months, changes have made it possible for the Festival of Friends to negotiate solutions to many of the concerns that necessitated our exit."

Festival general manager Loren Lieberman confirmed in an interview that the festival, which is entering its 41st year, will be held next August in Gage Park.

Lieberman said Ward 2 Coun. Jason Farr and Ward 3 Coun. Matthew Green were instrumental smoothing the way for the festival's return to east Hamilton.

"The landscape has changed," Lieberman said. "City hall has changed."

The festival moved to Ancaster in 2011, with Lieberman saying at the time that it had outgrown Gage Park.

The festival, which at that time was attracting evening crowds as large as 30,000, also had issues with parking in and around the park, as well as complaints from the neighbourhood regarding noise and the increasing numbers of attendees.

Lieberman said the festival was also denied access to the park's east end which had previously been used for parking. He said he expects to regain access to that area for expanded parking.

Green said one of his top priorities as a city councillor has been bringing the festival back to Ward 3, which houses Gage Park.

"One of the first things I did when elected (in 2014) was take a walk around Gage Park with Loren (Lieberman) and discuss some of the issues that had been present there before," Green said.

"My perspective was that Gage Park was always the natural home for Festival of Friends. So I'm excited to see it finally coming back. Our community was a very proud host of Festival of Friends and there has been a lot of interest in Ward 3 to see it returned."

Both Lieberman and Green were reluctant to go into detail about what had changed to bring the festival back to the place it began in 1976.

"I'm not as interested in looking at the problems that we've had in our community over the past 10 or 20 years, as I am looking at the opportunities we have moving forward," Green said.

Green added, however, that he is interested finding ways to reduce the costs of policing events such as the Festival of Friends.

In 2012 police sent Festival of Friends organizers a bill for $44,000.

"The paid duty policing problem is just onerous on our festivals and events," Green said. "The highest costs for most of our festival events are paid duty policing. That's something we've got to look at as a city."

Farr said Lieberman used him as an early "sounding board" for the idea of a move back to the original location.

"Obviously, as an inner city kid, my public preference has always been the historical Gage Park home," Farr said. "I'm not knocking (the fairgrounds) but there is a history here that a lot of people remember fondly."

Farr said his contribution was mainly helping festival organizers to reach the right city bureaucrats to ensure a venue change wouldn't endanger event grant requests and associated timelines.

Ancaster Coun. Lloyd Ferguson said he had heard festival organizers had been mulling the decision for some time.

"It's sad to see it go. It will be missed," said Ferguson, who added the well-attended event was good for the Ancaster Agricultural Society, which runs the fairgrounds.

Lieberman said the festival had no ill-will toward the Ancaster site: "We're leaving with nothing but love for the fairgrounds and Coun. Ferguson."

The move to Ancaster provoked an outcry from longtime fans of the festival who wanted it kept in Gage Park. Ironically, the festival's opening day in Ancaster created an enormous traffic jam on Highway 403 as tens of thousands of people flocked to the fairgrounds to see performances by The Sheepdogs and City and Colour.

With files from Matthew Van Dongen

grockingham@thespec.com

905-526-3331 | @RockatTheSpec

Festival of Friends returning to Gage Park

News Oct 26, 2016 by Graham Rockingham The Hamilton Spectator

The Festival of Friends is coming home.

The Festival announced Tuesday through a short video on Twitter that it will return to Gage Park after being staged for six years at the Ancaster Fairgrounds.

"In 2011, the Festival of Friends was forced to move for a myriad of reasons including unresponsive leadership at city hall," the video says to the accompaniment of Skylar Grey singing "I'm Coming Home."

"In the past few months, changes have made it possible for the Festival of Friends to negotiate solutions to many of the concerns that necessitated our exit."

Festival general manager Loren Lieberman confirmed in an interview that the festival, which is entering its 41st year, will be held next August in Gage Park.

Lieberman said Ward 2 Coun. Jason Farr and Ward 3 Coun. Matthew Green were instrumental smoothing the way for the festival's return to east Hamilton.

"The landscape has changed," Lieberman said. "City hall has changed."

The festival moved to Ancaster in 2011, with Lieberman saying at the time that it had outgrown Gage Park.

The festival, which at that time was attracting evening crowds as large as 30,000, also had issues with parking in and around the park, as well as complaints from the neighbourhood regarding noise and the increasing numbers of attendees.

Lieberman said the festival was also denied access to the park's east end which had previously been used for parking. He said he expects to regain access to that area for expanded parking.

Green said one of his top priorities as a city councillor has been bringing the festival back to Ward 3, which houses Gage Park.

"One of the first things I did when elected (in 2014) was take a walk around Gage Park with Loren (Lieberman) and discuss some of the issues that had been present there before," Green said.

"My perspective was that Gage Park was always the natural home for Festival of Friends. So I'm excited to see it finally coming back. Our community was a very proud host of Festival of Friends and there has been a lot of interest in Ward 3 to see it returned."

Both Lieberman and Green were reluctant to go into detail about what had changed to bring the festival back to the place it began in 1976.

"I'm not as interested in looking at the problems that we've had in our community over the past 10 or 20 years, as I am looking at the opportunities we have moving forward," Green said.

Green added, however, that he is interested finding ways to reduce the costs of policing events such as the Festival of Friends.

In 2012 police sent Festival of Friends organizers a bill for $44,000.

"The paid duty policing problem is just onerous on our festivals and events," Green said. "The highest costs for most of our festival events are paid duty policing. That's something we've got to look at as a city."

Farr said Lieberman used him as an early "sounding board" for the idea of a move back to the original location.

"Obviously, as an inner city kid, my public preference has always been the historical Gage Park home," Farr said. "I'm not knocking (the fairgrounds) but there is a history here that a lot of people remember fondly."

Farr said his contribution was mainly helping festival organizers to reach the right city bureaucrats to ensure a venue change wouldn't endanger event grant requests and associated timelines.

Ancaster Coun. Lloyd Ferguson said he had heard festival organizers had been mulling the decision for some time.

"It's sad to see it go. It will be missed," said Ferguson, who added the well-attended event was good for the Ancaster Agricultural Society, which runs the fairgrounds.

Lieberman said the festival had no ill-will toward the Ancaster site: "We're leaving with nothing but love for the fairgrounds and Coun. Ferguson."

The move to Ancaster provoked an outcry from longtime fans of the festival who wanted it kept in Gage Park. Ironically, the festival's opening day in Ancaster created an enormous traffic jam on Highway 403 as tens of thousands of people flocked to the fairgrounds to see performances by The Sheepdogs and City and Colour.

With files from Matthew Van Dongen

grockingham@thespec.com

905-526-3331 | @RockatTheSpec

Festival of Friends returning to Gage Park

News Oct 26, 2016 by Graham Rockingham The Hamilton Spectator

The Festival of Friends is coming home.

The Festival announced Tuesday through a short video on Twitter that it will return to Gage Park after being staged for six years at the Ancaster Fairgrounds.

"In 2011, the Festival of Friends was forced to move for a myriad of reasons including unresponsive leadership at city hall," the video says to the accompaniment of Skylar Grey singing "I'm Coming Home."

"In the past few months, changes have made it possible for the Festival of Friends to negotiate solutions to many of the concerns that necessitated our exit."

Festival general manager Loren Lieberman confirmed in an interview that the festival, which is entering its 41st year, will be held next August in Gage Park.

Lieberman said Ward 2 Coun. Jason Farr and Ward 3 Coun. Matthew Green were instrumental smoothing the way for the festival's return to east Hamilton.

"The landscape has changed," Lieberman said. "City hall has changed."

The festival moved to Ancaster in 2011, with Lieberman saying at the time that it had outgrown Gage Park.

The festival, which at that time was attracting evening crowds as large as 30,000, also had issues with parking in and around the park, as well as complaints from the neighbourhood regarding noise and the increasing numbers of attendees.

Lieberman said the festival was also denied access to the park's east end which had previously been used for parking. He said he expects to regain access to that area for expanded parking.

Green said one of his top priorities as a city councillor has been bringing the festival back to Ward 3, which houses Gage Park.

"One of the first things I did when elected (in 2014) was take a walk around Gage Park with Loren (Lieberman) and discuss some of the issues that had been present there before," Green said.

"My perspective was that Gage Park was always the natural home for Festival of Friends. So I'm excited to see it finally coming back. Our community was a very proud host of Festival of Friends and there has been a lot of interest in Ward 3 to see it returned."

Both Lieberman and Green were reluctant to go into detail about what had changed to bring the festival back to the place it began in 1976.

"I'm not as interested in looking at the problems that we've had in our community over the past 10 or 20 years, as I am looking at the opportunities we have moving forward," Green said.

Green added, however, that he is interested finding ways to reduce the costs of policing events such as the Festival of Friends.

In 2012 police sent Festival of Friends organizers a bill for $44,000.

"The paid duty policing problem is just onerous on our festivals and events," Green said. "The highest costs for most of our festival events are paid duty policing. That's something we've got to look at as a city."

Farr said Lieberman used him as an early "sounding board" for the idea of a move back to the original location.

"Obviously, as an inner city kid, my public preference has always been the historical Gage Park home," Farr said. "I'm not knocking (the fairgrounds) but there is a history here that a lot of people remember fondly."

Farr said his contribution was mainly helping festival organizers to reach the right city bureaucrats to ensure a venue change wouldn't endanger event grant requests and associated timelines.

Ancaster Coun. Lloyd Ferguson said he had heard festival organizers had been mulling the decision for some time.

"It's sad to see it go. It will be missed," said Ferguson, who added the well-attended event was good for the Ancaster Agricultural Society, which runs the fairgrounds.

Lieberman said the festival had no ill-will toward the Ancaster site: "We're leaving with nothing but love for the fairgrounds and Coun. Ferguson."

The move to Ancaster provoked an outcry from longtime fans of the festival who wanted it kept in Gage Park. Ironically, the festival's opening day in Ancaster created an enormous traffic jam on Highway 403 as tens of thousands of people flocked to the fairgrounds to see performances by The Sheepdogs and City and Colour.

With files from Matthew Van Dongen

grockingham@thespec.com

905-526-3331 | @RockatTheSpec