New festival head, new date and new digs
Festival will return to Gage Park Civic Holiday weekend
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.