Unfortunately, 2020 has more terrible news for us before the end of the year. America’s longest running prog-rock festival, RoSfest, has closed its doors. Over the last 16 years, RoSfest has included prog headliners from all over the world, such as Spock’s Beard, Glass Hammer, Brand X, PFM, The Flower Kings, Moon Safari, as well as wonderful less well-known bands and up-and-comers like Traverser, Perfect Beings, District 97, Kyros, and The Aaron Clift Experiment (to name a few). The festival moved to the 1000-seat Sarasota Opera House in Florida in 2019 from its original Gettysburg PA location and was forced to cancel its 2nd year at the opera house due to Covid-19 lockdowns. The 2020 line-up was supposed to include Big Big Train’s first show in the States, and CAST and Thank You Scientist as the other two headliners. Other acts on board were Dilemma, Pattern Seeking Animals, United Progressive Fraternity, The Tea Club, Lobate Scarp, Moon Letters, and Arc Iris.
George Roldan, organizer of RoSfest, put out a statement yesterday:
The Rites of Spring Festival says “Goodbye, for now”. RoSfest has been a treasure in the progressive rock world for the last 17 years and it has been my privilege to produce and host one of the best progressive rock music festivals in the world, but RoSfest will officially end its 16-year run in 2020. Dedicated to delivering the highest level of talent, production, and timing is central to what RoSfest represented; an outlet for a niche genre called Progressive Rock that provided a venue for new up and coming artists from around the globe. Running a music festival can be breathtakingly rewarding, but also quite expensive due to production, insurance, venue rental, hotel rental, staff accommodations, band expenses, vehicle rentals, etc. Additionally, the US government has made it harder and harder to acquire permits for working artists from around the world to perform in the US. Increasing artist permit requirements and fees makes it almost impossible for young bands to travel abroad. RoSfest has been a labor of love but has been struggling financially for years and can’t survive another “Covid” crisis. Unfortunately, we are not able to keep operating the festival at a loss. On a personal note, I feel so lucky to have been part of this organization. To work with such an incredible staff and dedicated volunteers and to interact with the best Progressive audiophiles in the world. RoSfest has been magical and could not have existed without YOU…. the best and most supportive audience anyone could hope for. Without such an incredible community, RoSfest would not have been possible. I am so thankful for all of your support and dedication throughout our festival years.RoSfest will continue its core mission to support the art of Progressive Rock and may surprise you (at some point) with a special concert in the future. But for now, with tearful heartfelt thanks from all of us at RoSfest, it’s been an honor to interact with such accomplished and inspiring musicians and music lovers in the progressive rock community. In the words of RoSfest’s production manager, Kevin Madrishin, “We did it right!”– George Roldan
Hopefully the emphasis is on “for now”, and perhaps within a few years we will see a resurgence of RoSfest either in its glorious festival form or maybe in the form of an occasional one-night special event.