Kalamazoo's Island Fest dissolved indefinitely

Former festival organizer says Island Fest will not happen in 2017 and will have to make major changes if it ever has a chance of returning.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Almost a year after the I-Team uncovered financial woes at Island Fest, the annual Kalamazoo summer festival celebrating reggae and international food, Newschannel 3 is now learning Island Fest will not be happening this summer, and for that matter, has been dissolved indefinitely.

The former Island Fest President, Tom Jennings says the annual festival was fun to produce, but in recent years became a financial albatross due to the increasing costs of operation and lower attendance.

“I’ve lost money on it the last couple of years and I don’t have any other money to throw at it,” he said in an interview with the NEWSCHANNEL 3 I-Team via telephone. “I’m still paying some of the bills off from last year,” he added.”

Several vendors in 2016 contacted the I-Team, concerned about not being paid to the tune of thousands of dollars. Jennings says most of those vendors have been paid back.

“When I first got involved in it years ago, I was under the impression that we could do it downtown at the Arcadia Park, but after I got involved in it they said I had to close by 11:00… that eliminates any possibility for it to be viable economically,” he added, noting that in recent years the festival was held next to Mayors’ Riverfront park.

Jennings also says the festival lacked the necessary sponsorships to make it work in recent years.

“It’s disappointing because it was a cool event and I loved all the people who were part of it,” he said, stopping just shy of ruling out the possibility of bringing back the festival in the future, adding that many changes would need to happen before he brings it back.

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