Gathering of the Vibes to stay in Bridgeport through 2017

Christmas is coming a little early for the Vibe Tribe this year.

After months of speculation over whether or not the Gathering of the Vibes would stay in Bridgeport, organizers and the city have confirmed an agreement to hold the music, camping and arts festival at Seaside Park for five more years, according to a statement released Wednesday.

The 18th annual Gathering of the Vibes will return to the shores of the Long Island Sound July 25-28. Tickets are on sale now via the Gathering of the Vibes website.

As part of the deal, the city is charging the Vibes more for rent and the festival — not taxpayers — will shoulder the overtime costs of policing crowds, which have topped 20,000 in recent years. Over the summer, Hays threatened to find another venue because of rising expenses, but told the Connecticut Post that he was comfortable with the terms.

“I feel like we have a fair deal moving forward that Vibes can handle,” he said. “Clearly the administration feels the Vibes is a good thing for Bridgeport. And I do, too.”

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch welcomed the deal, saying that it was a “tremendous opportunity to showcase the Park City to thousands of out-of-town guests from throughout the country.”

Established in New York shortly after Grateful Dead founder Jerry Garcia’s death in 1995, the festival bounced around New York from Purchase to Croton Point Park to Plattsburgh before arriving in Bridgeport in 1999 and 2000. Since its founding, the festival has featured performances by Crosby, Stills & Nash, all living members of the Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers Band, James Brown, Elvis Costello, Primus, Derek Trucks, Jane’s Addiction and hundreds more.

The announcement followed months of uncertainty about the fate of Gathering of the Vibes. The previous deal between Hays and the city, which lasted from 2007 to 2012, was set to expire this year.

Bridgeport, as well as Connecticut, has good reason to keep the Vibes in the city: The economic benefits are enormous, as the Vibes brings tourists and also contracts with Connecticut companies for stage crews, musical equipment, staff meals and toilet facilities.

For the full story, visit the Connecticut Post online.

Scott Gargan