Organizers have pulled the plug on this year's Rothbury festival, the much-touted rock and environmental fest that drew thousands of camping concertgoers to western Michigan the past two summers.
But they say they are still moving toward the event's return in 2011.
In a release today, event producers Madison House Presents and AEG Live said a contributing factor in the decision was difficulty in assembling an artist lineup.
“The result for this year is that we are not able to move forward with the integrity and high standards that we demand from ourselves and for the festival,” Madison House Presents' Jeremy Stein said in the release.
The festival launched on Fourth of July weekend in 2008, garnering positive reviews for both its music lineup and devoted green focus, including a progressive use of sustainable technologies.
Organizers managed to reprise Rothbury last summer amid financial struggles for the Double JJ Ranch, the fest's lush rural site in Grant Township, 25 miles north of Muskegon. The 72-year-old ranch was purchased from bankruptcy court in July by a Pennsylvania resorts firm.
Rothbury embraced an unconventional music approach that assembled both rootsy rock bands (Grateful Dead, Dave Matthews Band, Allman Brothers Band) and edgy electronic-dance acts who played well into morning hours. Promoter Jeremy Stein described the lineup's guiding theme as "street credibility and integrity."
Marni Feldman, 32, of Birmingham attended Rothbury's inaugural year and was planning to be there this summer. Feldman is a veteran festivalgoer who has attended events such as Bonaroo and Lollapalooza, and ranked Rothbury at the top.
"It's very upsetting to me," she said. "It's one of the things I was really looking forward to this summer. Rothbury is one of the best-organized festivals with one of the best sites and a crowd that wanted to have a good time and get along."
After an initial embrace from residents near the Double JJ, rumblings of discontent began to emerge in recent months. Officials with Grant Township were considering the adoption of ordinances that would have forced a 1 a.m. noise curfew, among other restrictions.
Official crowd counts were never announced, but Michigan State Police and other officials estimated that about 35,000 people attended each year.
The fest's 2008 edition ended on a down note with the unrelated deaths of two concertgoers on the final day. Toxicology results revealed both had died of drug overdoses.
In the release, Stein addressed the possibility of the fest's return in 2011: "This event is something very special, and we are unwilling to potentially tarnish what Rothbury is, and can become, by working under conditions that will produce anything less than a magical experience. Our efforts are certainly not coming to an end."