New fes­ti­val head, new date and new digs

Fes­ti­val will re­turn to Gage Park Civic Hol­i­day week­end

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - GRA­HAM ROCK­ING­HAM grock­ing­ham@thes­ 905-526-3331 | @Rock­atTheSpec

The Fes­ti­val of Friends is re­turn­ing to Gage Park with a new set of dates and a new gen­eral man­ager.

De­spite ear­lier spec­u­la­tion that the 42nd an­nual free fes­ti­val would be headed by Su­per­crawl di­rec­tor Tim Po­to­cic, the Fes­ti­val of Friends board of di­rec­tors has cho­sen long­time board mem­ber Robert Rakoczy to re­place out­go­ing GM Loren Lieber­man.

Lieber­man, who had run the fes­ti­val for 15 years, an­nounced his res­ig­na­tion from the post in an emo­tional let­ter to The Hamil­ton Spec­ta­tor on Satur­day.

Rakoczy, a fes­ti­val board mem­ber for 12 years and board pres­i­dent for the past five, said in an in­ter­view Mon­day that the fes­ti­val would be held on the civic long week­end, Aug. 4, 5 and 6 in Gage Park. The dates mark a re­turn to the leafy lower-city park for the fes­ti­val af­ter six years at the An­caster Fair­grounds.

Tra­di­tion­ally, the fes­ti­val has been held on the week­end af­ter the civic hol­i­day, but this year the park had al­ready been booked by the Hamil­ton Ribfest.

“To me, mov­ing back to Gage Park is worth more than hav­ing our tra­di­tional week­end,” Rakoczy, 34, said.

As gen­eral man­ager, Rakoczy is re­spon­si­ble for book­ing acts, as well as at­tract­ing spon­sors and ven­dors. Un­der terms of their con­tract, Rakoczy said he and his part­ner, Lisa Gi­uli­etti (in charge of co-or­di­nat­ing ex­hibits and ven­dors), will re­ceive a to­tal of $50,000. The fes­ti­val re­ceives

With Canada 150, we’re try­ing to go as Cana­dian as pos­si­ble. ROB RAKOCZY NEW DI­REC­TOR OF FES­TI­VAL OF FRIENDS

$80,500 in fund­ing from the city and an­other $45,000 from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

Rakoczy, who re­cently opened a new fes­ti­val of­fice at 302 Cum­ber­land Ave., is still book­ing acts and lin­ing up spon­sors. He ex­pects to have a full line up to an­nounce in late June.

“We will have more ven­dors than ever and our acts will be the same level and same qual­ity that ev­ery­one ex­pects from the Fes­ti­val of Friends,” he said. “With Canada 150, we’re try­ing to go as Cana­dian as pos­si­ble. In fact, on the Satur­day we have a big day planned with ev­ery­one play­ing from Canada.”

Rakoczy said ne­go­ti­a­tions with Po­to­cic “just didn’t work out.”

“I can­not over­state how help­ful Su­per­crawl and Tim Po­to­cic have been in our tran­si­tion,” Rakoczy added. “He has been very help­ful to us. There’s no an­i­mos­ity.”

Po­to­cic agreed the talks ended am­i­ca­bly: “We’re there to sup­port and wish them well. We hope they have big­ger suc­cess than they’ve ever had.”


A large crowd takes in some live music at the 2009 Fes­ti­val of Friends in Gage Park. The fes­ti­val is re­turn­ing to the park af­ter six years in An­caster.


New Fes­ti­val of Friends gen­eral man­ager Rob Rakoczy at the new of­fice on Cum­ber­land Av­enue.

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