By Cole Behrens
Athens NEWS Associate Editor
The Nelsonville Music Festival is leaving the Hocking College campus — but Hocking College isn’t taking the news lying down.
The announcement of NMF’s departure from the Hocking campus was made Monday. The weeklong event has been held on Hocking College’s campus since 2008, three years after the festival began in 2005.
Stuart’s Opera House, a nonprofit historic theater in Nelsonville, presents the NMF. Tim Peacock, artistic director for Stuart’s, said that the reason for the change was that Hocking College was currently constructing an athletic complex on the site of the concert.
“These changes eliminate what was previously our Main Stage, Porch Stage, and Food Court areas,” Peacock said in an email.
He said once Stuart’s learned about the athletic complex construction, it “started exploring alternative sites that would best fit the needs of the Nelsonville Music Festival and (the) audience’s experience.” He added that the Nelsonville Music Festival had not considered leaving Hocking College until the complex was being constructed.
Peacock said there is no final decision on where the festival will be held in the future.
Hocking College President Betty Young said she was “disappointed” in the decision to leave campus. She said she believed the new upgrades to the festival area would be an asset rather than an obstacle for the NMF.
“We think there are a lot of improvements that make it an even better venue,” Young said.
She said that over the years, the college has built up infrastructure to support the music festival.
In fact, she said, Hocking College will organize another festival in NMF’s place, featuring bluegrass and country music, rather than the alternative music format of the NMF.
She said the decision for different genres was intentional to avoid competing with each other. Yet she said the new, as-of-yet-unnamed music festival will be held June 9 through 12 in 2022.
The most recent NMF was held June 6 to June 9, 2019.
“We just aren’t going to allow Nelsonville to lose what was started for Nelsonville,” Young said.
Peacock said he was glad to hear Hocking College would be hosting another festival in the area that will draw more people to Nelsonville.
“We are strong believers that music festivals that attract people to our area are a great boost to our local businesses and local economy,” Peacock said in an email. “I think our region would love to have a country music festival and am confident Hocking College can make that happen.”