Organizers of the Resurgam Festival, first held last year in Thompson’s Point, want to follow in the footsteps of Carnival Maine and move the event to Portland Beach this year.
The Maine Academy of Contemporary Music is partnering with the city to bring a one-day music festival to Ocean Gateway and surrounding areas on June 11. City councilors are required to formally approve the move at a meeting on Monday.
The proposed venue change comes just a week after Carnaval Maine first held its annual music and food festival in the expansive parking lot of DiMillo’s Restaurant on Commercial Street.
“We were thinking about it over the winter, and after hearing Thompson’s Point might be under construction, we thought it might be a good time to bring it downtown,” said Jeff Shaw, founder and CEO of the Music Academy. , known as MAMM. “We know he can work in this place.”
As Portland continues to grow and attract visitors from Maine and beyond, questions about how to manage potentially large crowds and gatherings – and where they should and shouldn’t be – are likely to continue.
Last year, a major concert promoter approached the city about hosting a two-day music festival in Payson Park, which borders Back Cove and some residential neighborhoods. The idea was met with consternation, prompting C3 Presents, a division of concert giant Live Nation, to postpone the festival until 2024.
Now, local arts organization Portland Ovations is proposing — also to the City Council Monday — to bring New England-based touring circus Circus Smirkus to Payson Park on Aug. 6 and 7, but it’s unlikely to be a smaller event. Retreat from the neighborhood.
“(A proposed music festival) in Payson Park, put on by people who aren’t from here, I can understand the hesitation,” said Shaw, of MAMM. “We are local. We do it because we love Portland.
MAMM, which serves hundreds of students nationwide with workshops, classes and events, launched the Resurgam Festival last year in part to fill the void left when the Old Port Festival ended its nearly 50-year run on the stage in 2019. The Academy sponsored the stage in St. Old Port Festival over the years.
The name Resurgam is derived from Portland’s city motto, adopted in 1832, which means “I will rise again” in Latin. The city rose from the ashes, literally, several times – after and after the bombardment by the British Navy in 1775. A devastating fire in 1866.
Last year’s inaugural event at Thompson’s Point, featuring Maine singer-songwriter King Kyote and Dave Gutter of the Rustic Overtones, drew about 5,000 people, Shaw said, and he hopes to build on that this year.
“On a sunny day, the Old Port Festival will get 50,000 or more,” he said. “It would be nice to do that, obviously, but anything that’s an improvement over last year is great.”
The new location will be at Ocean Gateway, on the waterfront, as well as the parking area and Moon Tide Park, just down Commercial Street from where Carnival Main was last week. Over four days, the event attracted just 11,000 attendees, far short of the 15,000 organizers had planned, but was still hailed as a success. Carnaval was established in 2020 as a way to bring visitors to Portland during the slow season, and the first two were held on the Eastern Promenade.
“We received a lot of positive feedback from attendees who loved the new venue, the entertainment lineup and everything Carnaval Maine has to offer,” said Brian Corcoran, CEO of Shamrock Sports & Entertainment, which produces the event. “We had visitors from 23 states and Canada — up from 19 a year ago — and generated an estimated $4.3 million in economic impact for Greater Portland.
MAMM was a partner in Carnaval Maine as well. Several students participated and a percentage of the proceeds supported the school.
Cary Tyson, executive director of Portland Downtown, a nonprofit that supports downtown, said large-scale events in the area always have positive benefits.
“We love having these things to bring people downtown,” he said. “People might stay and have a drink or a meal, or see a store they want to go back to.”
Tyson said larger events downtown, as opposed to other areas where there may be more housing, keep concerns at bay.
“People move here because they love the engagement and activity of an urban commercial environment,” he said.
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