The board of directors of the Northwest Jazz Festival of Historic Lewiston, NY (Lewiston Jazz Festival Inc.) announced Thursday the popular festival has been canceled for 2021. Planning is underway for the 2022 event, slated for Aug. 26-27.
Organizers said the decision to cancel was made upon consideration of funding, logistics, contracts, operations and New York state guidelines/restrictions.
The annual event is a free outdoor concert featuring more than 150 musicians over the two-day festival with tens of thousands of attendees within a two-block section of Center Street in the Village of Lewiston.
Over $150,000 is raised to host the festival each year through sponsorship, vendor fees and an annual fundraising event. While several large sponsors were on board for this year, organizers said the magnitude of raising the funds for the free event is not attainable at this time.
A subcommittee of the volunteer board is focused on planning a fundraising event in August featuring local jazz musicians at Village of Lewiston restaurants and bars.
Boards of Director Chairwoman Carol Calato said, “Good news! The board is working on hosting a reimagined jazz event this August as a fundraiser for the 2022 event. As hopeful as we have been that we would be able to bring back the Northwest Jazz Festival as we know it in 2021, the board has decided there are still too many unknowns and too little time to make the same upscale festival possible this year. That said, plans are in the works for an exciting weekend offering jazz lovers a taste of what will come in 2022 ... when we will be back in full force.”
Music Director Tony Zambito, who coordinates the musicians and takes care of the contracts for the national headliner performances, said, “While it is disappointing to cancel for 2021, it is the right thing to do. Our No. 1 concern is for the safety of the audience. We still have a high degree of uncertainty that makes advanced planning extremely difficult. The festival has made tremendous progress towards fulfilling the promise of establishing itself as a world-class jazz festival. As well as maintaining being one of the largest free jazz festivals in the region. Without the necessary resources and the constraints upon us due to the pandemic, we will not be able to fulfill this promise. We’ll be looking at a fundraising event for the planned weekend involving the community with our eyes towards returning in a big way in 2022."
The board of directors will continue to work with Northwest Bank, the naming sponsor of the event, and sponsors to bring back the internationally known festival next year.
Upcoming events and fundraising opportunities are currently being planned for Aug. 27-28, 2021, and will be listed online at www.LewistonJazz.com.
The Northwest Jazz Festival, Lewiston, NY is a 501(c)(3) organization under the name of Lewiston Jazz Festival Inc. The Village of Lewiston is host to the region’s most popular two-day free music jazz festival, which boasts nonstop performances on five stages and an abundance of culinary delights paired with Niagara Region wineries.