SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – It brought in hundreds of thousands of visitors to Sacramento every Memorial Day weekend for more than 40 years, but today organizers of the Sacramento Music Festival, formerly the Jazz Jubilee, announced they’re calling it quits.
Organizers on Monday thanked everyone for all the support over the past four decades.
It was once one of the top jazz festivals in the nation, packing streets with people and music since 1974. But as the years went by, organizers said they couldn’t sustain the event’s popularity, and a name change wasn’t enough to keep the music playing.
For years, Old Sacramento has been the spot for music fans to congregate for one of the top jazz festivals in the nation.
“It was marvelous. We would fill up lots of hotels. Sacramento loved us back then,” said Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society President Dennis Speciale.
But over the years the crowds grew smaller. Organizers renamed the Jazz Jubilee the Sacramento Music Festival, hoping the broadened appeal would add visitors.
“We wanted to be more inclusive. We thought changing our name and hiring more popular rock ‘n’ roll bands would bring in more of the younger crowds,” said Speciale.
Critics say it didn’t and only angered purists. But organizers say the increase in cost, the decrease in attendance and competition from other festivals took its toll. Because of the changing demographic, it’s a toll that some say may not hit area businesses that hard.
“Our non-festival weekends have been just at or below the same festival attendance that this has brought in,” said Brooksie Hughes, a Downtown Sacramento Partnership spokesperson.
Still, for jazz festival-goers like Paul and Sandy Jackson from Oregon, the cancellation is a reminder that a younger generation is choosing a different tune.
“They don’t appreciate music like we old folks do,” said Sandy Jackson.
“You can’t appreciate jazz by looking at your phone,” said Paul Jackson, laughing.
Organizers say they’re canceling for 2018 season, but they may bring the jazz festival back in years to come.