Summer Camp Stays Home

Organizers of the three-day Summer Camp Music Festival in Chillicothe, Ill., won’t have to find a new location for the event next year, or several years to come, following a grassroots campaign to keep it at privately owned Three Sisters Park.

The festival now has a five-year contract at Three Sisters Park and a five-year extension on its sound ordinance, so it’s business as usual.

Mike Armintrout, marketing director for co-promoter Jay Goldberg Events & Entertainment, said a letter-writing campaign and petition asking park and city officials to reconsider made the difference.

“The community and local businesses really stepped up and went to bat for the festival,” Armintrout told Pollstar. “We have all worked so hard to develop the festival at this park, it would have been a shame to be forced to take it somewhere else.

“After the initial bad press and reaction, we really weren’t sure what would happen.”

Goldberg staff was notified in June that the festival, which is co-promoted by Jam Productions, would not be invited back after a local emergency room doctor sent a letter and petition to park management requesting it no longer host the jam band event because of “numerous” drug overdose cases. The May 26-28 festival attracted more than 8,000 concertgoers to see acts such as moe., Rusted Root, Umphrey’s McGee, and Yonder Mountain String Band.

The Peoria Journal Star quoted Dr. Richard Frederick of OSF St. Francis Medical Center saying Summer Camp had become “one of the Midwest’s most popular venues for the abuse of illegal drugs.”

But Armintrout said the head of the medical center recently sent a letter to the city and park management that said Frederick’s opinion did not reflect the opinion of the hospital or its staff.

“That was a huge weight lifted from our shoulders. That letter that came from the doctor at OSF is what started this whole thing,” Armintrout said. “Once the park and the city saw all this support coming from the community and business owners, [park officials] overturned their decision and came back and offered us a contract.”

Pollstar‘s attempt to reach Three Sisters Park GM Chris Cassidy was unsuccessful at press time.

– Tina Amendola