JazzFest, an event in its 28th year, and Sun Festival will become into one massive week-long celebration in 2018.
Alexander City Chamber of Commerce CEO Ed Collari revealed the development at Monday’s meeting of the Alexander City City Council, saying by combined the festivals over the same week should give the area “a signature event that could draw visitors from across the Southeast who would stay for several days.”
“The JazzFest has been around for 28 years and the track record it has is incredible,” Collari told the council. “But it has been done by a committee, and over time it has gotten down to where just a handful of people were having to handle the majority of the work. Primarily it was driven by Russell Lands and Robert Gunn in particular.
“So they approached the Chamber about taking it over and we were glad to do that. But in looking at Sun Festival and particularly the timing of it in late July when the weather was just so hot, we thought that holding the two the same week just made sense.”
The festivals will still be held the second week of June with the big JazzFest shows set for Friday and Saturday night. Collari said that Sun Festival events will still be held all week to keep events for the community, kids and to help draw people to the downtown area and to promote all the things the city has to offer.
“We’re still in the planning stages right now so we don’t know exactly what the lineup will be or what the final product will look like,” Collari said. “But I think by having it in that time frame, before so many people start taking vacations and before the extreme heat gets here, I think it will draw much better crowds.
“Plus, I think by concentrating the efforts, it gives the area a signature event that could draw visitors from across the Southeast who would stay for several days. Jazz Fest has been the big event for a long time and we are excited to be a part of it and to help make it even better with the weeklong events that lead up to the two big final nights of music.”
JJ Grey and Mofro, The Derek Trucks Band, Delta Rae, Lowrider, Susan Tedeschi, Los Lonely Boys, and world renowned banjo player Bella Fleck are just some of the acts that have graced the JazzFest stages over the years.
Since its creation in June of 1991 the festival has been free to public. It started as a customer appreciation celebration for the 100th anniversary of Frohsin’s Department Store. Sun Festival is heading into its fifth year and had been held the final week of July.
“I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m a big guy and I lost almost 10 pounds in that week,” Collari said. “I just think for a lot of reasons this new arrangement makes sense. By concentrating efforts on one big week of events rather than dividing them between two separate events at two separate times, it will leave you with one unbelievable week.”
Collari said more details would come in the coming months.