The Zeiterion Performing Arts Center announced on Thursday that the New Bedford Folk Festival has come to an end after 25 years. The festival was held annually in the city and was a major contributor to the local economy, bringing in over 15,000 tourists and generating $3 million in revenue.
The festival started as Summerfest and was produced by founders Alan and Helene Korolenko with the help of fiscal sponsors for its first 20 years. When the Korolenkos were ready to retire the festival in 2015, the Zeiterion stepped forward to continue its legacy. The performing arts center produced the festival for five more years, culminating in a triumphant 25th anniversary celebration in 2022.
Rosemary Gill, President and CEO of the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center, expressed her gratitude for all those involved in the creation of the festival. “We honor and thank all involved who created a brilliant twenty-five year tradition: the dedicated festival staff, the City of New Bedford, musicians, vendors, downtown businesses, sponsors, donors, and, of course, the faithful festival goers,” she said.
The decision to end the festival was made due to rising costs and expenses related to the pandemic. Despite exploring other options, the Zeiterion ultimately decided to go out on a high note and honor the festival’s legacy.
The New Bedford Folk Festival will be remembered as a beloved cultural event that brought together hundreds of artists and filled downtown New Bedford with fantastic folk music. Its impact on the city and its economy will be felt for years to come.