Musikfest 2012 Will Return to Flood Plain

Jeff Parks tells City Council that "crafters begged us not to move them," so Handwerkplatz and Volksplatz will stay put.


Despite the soggy experience of 2011, Handwerkplatz and Volksplatz will return to their traditional locations near the banks of the Monocacy Creek in the Colonial Industrial Quarter for Musikfest 2012.

So said Jeff Parks, the president of ArtsQuest, who appeared at on Tuesday night to give City Council an update on progress at the arts and entertainment campus.

“There will be no changes in terms of the sites,” Parks said. “We surveyed the crafters and they begged us not to move them. They said two times in 28 years is not a bad record.”

Last year, ArtsQuest, which runs the annual 10-day festival of music, food and beer, during the fest’s last weekend. It had rained – often heavily – for five out of Musikfest’s first nine days.

On the evening of the ninth and next-to-last day, the Artisans and crafters scrambled to close up shop and get as much of their merchandise out of the way of the rising floodwaters. Several vendors lost merchandise in addition to more than a day’s worth of possible sales.

The flooding also caused shows to be cancelled at Volksplatz, a free music stage that features world music. With that venue closing, in addition to the many days of rain, from souvenir and food and beer ticket sales.

It rained again on the tenth and last day of Musikfest 2011, leaving ArtsQuest not just soaking in creek water, but awash in red ink.

Parks told council that ArtsQuest finished the year $700,000 behind in operating expenses and he acknowledged that the wet Musikfest wasn’t exclusively to blame.

The Musikfest Café, a flexible 500-to-1,000-person indoor concert venue inside the new $26 million ArtsQuest Center, got off to a slow start after its May opening, Parks said. In concerts through October, the venue only sold out 46 percent of its capacity. Since October, ticket sales have climbed to 64 percent of venue capacity, while seven shows have been sellouts, he said.

In January, the ArtsQuest Center had an operating surplus, a positive sign for the organization going forward.

“People are discovering it every single day,” Parks said.

George Salsa Guy Gilreath February 08, 2012 at 04:55 PM
We were offered Main St, and other spots but being out in that August Sun is hard on some of the elderly crafters not to mention that 11-12 hours in direct sun cooks my salsa. Plus anybody who has been on Main St, knows that's no a spot for us, enough said about that. We didn't ask for any kind of assistance from ArtQuest or anybody. ArtQuest did issue us a partial refund on our Musikfest vendor fees and a free spot at one of their other fall shows. All of us veteran crafters got together over Christkindlmarkt and it was unanimous that we wanted our old spots back. It's shaded down there and we don't get the crazy crowds but we get a nice crowed.
George Salsa Guy Gilreath February 08, 2012 at 05:01 PM
yes and we didn't want it.
George Salsa Guy Gilreath February 08, 2012 at 05:01 PM
The crafters didn't ask for handouts.
Mary Anne Looby February 08, 2012 at 05:33 PM
@George, thank you for clearing that up for the public. All we know is what we read in the papers, and most of that is from ArtQuest. I did read that the donations that were being sought would not be for the vendors. As long as the crafters are happy with where they are, that is all that matters!
Daryl Nerl February 08, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Thank you George for sharing that information with us. (And I'm a big fan of the salsa!)


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