NedFest is no more.
After 20 years, Peak to Peak Music Education Association has announced it will no longer hold the annual music festival in Nederland because of a lack of space in Barker Meadows Park as the town redevelops the area to include new bathrooms, a community greenhouse and a bike pump track.
"It was an exceptionally difficult decision to make, but we felt that land use decisions made by the Nederland Board of Trustees and town administration have rendered the ball field unusable," the association's board of directors wrote in a letter announcing NedFest's cancellation.
In addition to the development plans — which the Peak to Peak board noted it supported but was disappointed did not include space for an amphitheater — the town began to lease the park to Eldora Mountain Resort for use as an overflow parking lot in the winter, destroying the grass and causing dust storms during last year's festival.
While part of the $46,000 Eldora paid to lease the land was designated for re-seeding the grass, Kristen McFarland, the association's board secretary, said the ground was so densely packed beneath the weight of cars it would be nearly impossible to grow grass in advance of the festival, which is held in late August.
Rob Savoye, president of the board, said the association looked at potentially making the festival smaller or moving it somewhere else, but that the financials of doing so simply didn't work.
"Most of our overhead costs are fairly fixed and aren't that different if we have 800 or 2,000 (people)," the board said in a written statement. "Before we pay a single penny to a musician our daily cost is about $23,000, so we need to have a big enough audience and known artists that people will pay $60 to see in order to cover our costs. Contrary to popular opinion, NedFest doesn't make any money and no one gets paid except the musicians and production crew. The losses are covered by sponsors and board members and credit cards."
Kristopher Larson, Nederland mayor, said Nederland Board of Trustees is trying to work with the Peak to Peak to keep the musical tradition and economic boost that was NedFest alive, even offering to waive the permitting fees and alter development plans, but Savoye said it doesn't matter, NedFest is not coming back.
"It's time for somebody else to form a new organization and start their own thing," he said. "It was a really painful, difficult decision, but in some ways, it's kind of nice to be done. It will be nice to go to a festival where someone else does all the organizing."
"Don't despair," the board added. "The music will never die in Nederland!"