Sacramento Music Festival Goes Dark After 44 Years

Sacramento Music Festival
– Sacramento Music Festival

The Sacramento Music Festival, a mainstay of the California capital city for 44 years, has been canceled by organizers citing disappointing turnout for the 2017 edition after several years of decline.

A project of the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society, the festival featured Dixieland and traditional jazz artists as well as contemporary acts like Collective Soul, Tower of Power, and Los Lobos, according to the Sacramento Bee

At its mid-1980s peak, the festival reportedly drew more than 85,000 and spanned multiple locations in the city, including Old Sacramento, Cal Expo and elsewhere.

The following years saw attendance declines for the Sacramento Music Festival, which broadened its offerings to include rock, country, blues and other styles. But by 2014, the Society reported an $80,000 operating budget shortfall. Donors made up most of the difference by raising $60,000.

In 2017, the festival abandoned its contemporary music approach and went back to its jazz roots, according to the Bee. It may have already been too late for the programming adjustment, given the “mainstreaming” of the festival coincided with the launch of BottleRock Napa Valley.

“Probably the A-No. 1 reason they are ending is that they tried to go contemporary at the same time as Bottle Rock,” Sacramento concert promoter Scott Brill-Lehn, of

“Really, this last festival, we were hoping for a better turnout,” Lyle Van Horn, who has served on the Society’s board of directors for 31 years, told the Bee.  “With everything that was going on, and the competition during Memorial Day weekend, we decided we couldn’t sustain the festival at the level of what we had, and what people had grown accustomed to.”