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Peter Myles holds a poster commemorating 30 years of Harborfest, in 2017.

Two Years Without Harborfest

Director Peter Myles discusses the decision to cancel festival for the second year in a row. He talks about the future of the festival

By Steve Yablonski

A pall has fallen over one of Central New York’s premier summer festivals again this year.

In late April, organizers decided Harborfest 2021, like Harborfest 2020, wouldn’t be held. Executive Director Peter Myles explains why the decision was made and what the future holds for Harborfest.

Q: Why was it decided to cancel this year’s festival?

A: “The decision to cancel this year’s festival really came down to our inability to safely have Harborfest.

Q: The New York State Fair is a go. What’s the difference?

A:  Unlike many other festivals, Harborfest has multiple venues, none of which have a single point of entry. That makes it difficult to control attendance. In addition, it would be very difficult for Harborfest staff to enforce social distancing and the wearing of masks.

Q: Going forward, what does this mean for sponsorship?

A: I think we will be fine in 2022. The majority of our sponsors have indicated that they are looking forward to next year’s festival.

Q: Not having a festival last year hit the organization hard. How do things look financially?

A: Some of the revenue from a festival is start-up money for the following year. None of the part-time employees have been working since last year. We do not have any full-time employees. I hope that the community members continue to support the festival financially.

Q: What about the fireworks, will they still be on for 2022?

A: As far as I know, both sponsors are still on for the fireworks.

Q: Are you planning any sort of fundraising events to help raise money for the 2022 festival?

A: We just recently did a food event fundraiser on Lake Street. We are thinking about doing something in July. There’s nothing in stone yet.

Q: Will the community continue to support the festival after a two-year absence?

A: I think by next year people will be looking forward to a great community festival. The office has been closed since last year. We hope to begin planning for Harborfest 2022 in the fall.

Q: Will it be a problem finding performers?

A: I don’t think not having a festival for two years, back to back, will hinder our ability to attract top performers. They will come and perform if we have the money to pay them. Top name performers are very expensive and we cannot book them without having the funding in hand. This is why financial support from every part of the community is very important early in the planning process.

Q: What do you do in absence of the festivals?

A: Keep in mind, we are a very small part-time or seasonal staff; just four or five people. What we do when not planning for Harborfest is probably pretty typical stuff ranging from home projects to traveling.