The Carolina Foothills Chamber of Commerce has canceled the 2017 Blue Ridge BBQ & Music Festival.
The recommendation to cancel the longstanding community festival came Wednesday during a BBQ Festival Committee meeting. The Festival’s primary purpose has been to raise funds for the Chamber of Commerce through a nationally recognized family-oriented two-day event.
“I am personally saddened by this decision,” Allison Gillespie, the committee chair, said. “This would have been our 24th year, and we had plans to make some major changes and improvements, such as adding new programming and bringing in well-known musicians. Unfortunately, several circumstances have made it financially impossible for us to go forward this year. I sincerely hope we can find the ways and means to regroup and bring the festival back in 2018.”
Attendance to the festival has been on a downward trend for the past five years. In 2012, the paid attendance was just more than 12,000. In 2013, the attendance was 11,782. The trend continued with last year’s attendance being 7,499. In the festival’s best year, 2011, the attendance for those paying the gate fee was 17,000.
Also contributing to the decision was the Chamber’s and Town of Tryon’s inability to finalize their contract to use Harmon Field.