The organizers behind the annual Sonoma Music Festival announced Wednesday that they have canceled this year's event, which would have been its 30th, because of low ticket sales.
In an announcement posted on sonomamusicfestival.com, the promoters lamented that this year's festival was "slated to be one of the best line-ups in its history, featuring John Fogerty, Steve Miller and Toby Keith."
"Unfortunately, with the addition of an enormous festival at Coachella the same weekend and the following weekend with the Rolling Stones et. al., it is apparent that many of our long-time patrons chose to attend those events rather than our event," the statement said. " That circumstance has put our non-profit at a large financial loss jeopardizing our charitable efforts, therefore, we had no choice but to cancel."
The festival was started by Bruce Cohn, founder of the B.R. Cohn Winery and a former manager of the Doobie Brothers, to raise funding for local charities. For the first 28 years, the festival was held on the grounds of the winery but last year, promoters moved the festival to Sonoma's Field of Dreams, just blocks away from the city's plaza. That year, with a lineup that included Chicago, Ringo Starr and the Doobie Brothers, the festival nearly sold out.
Over 29 years, the festival has raised about $7 million for local and national charities such as the Fisher House, the Redwood Empire Food Bank and Sonoma Splash. Tickets this year ranged from $89 to $600.
Not every charitable music fest in the North Bay is struggling. The 9th annual Petaluma Music Festival, which was held at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds in early August and raised funds for music programs at local schools, almost sold out. The Petaluma lineup included indie rockers such as Jackie Greene and Xavier Rudd, and tickets were far cheaper at $45 to $110.
Sonoma Music Festival organizers say refunds will be available starting Oct. 1, and they note that re-directing payments to Bruce Cohn Charity Events “would be most appreciated.”