CARTHAGE — Organizers behind last year’s popular debut Crossroads International Celtic Festival announced last week that a lack of funding forced them to cancel this year’s event.

Held last year on Sept. 11-15 in 18 towns in Franklin and Oxford counties to celebrate the music and art of Celtic culture, the festival showcased artists from Canada’s Maritime Provinces, Quebec, the United Kingdom, Maine and the United States.

“We sure had a wonderful time last fall,” co-organizer Phill McIntyre said on the website of the Skye Theatre Performing Arts Center in Carthage.

McIntyre is the center’s director until Sept. 17 when it, too, closes.

Canceling the festival wasn’t an easy decision, but there were a lot of factors involved, he said Tuesday.

“We just weren’t able to get all of our ducks in a row,” McIntyre said. “There’s no one to blame, it’s just the conditions that we’re in. It’s a hard business climate that we’re in now.”


He said that shortly after last year’s festival ended, the Crossroads board lost its executive director, Debra Sutton, who took a job in Asheville, N.C.

Lack of funding was the main problem. Grants they received last year to fund the festival weren’t available this year.

He said that many of their grants were startup funds that were not available as Crossroads entered its second year. The Crossroads International Celtic Festival was a nonprofit organization under the fiscal sponsorship of the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments.

Corporate sponsors also cut back, McIntyre said, and many of the festival’s venue partners are experiencing declining audiences.

“Crossroads puts the musicians first and we can’t risk not being able to pay our artists,” McIntyre said. “We tried to strip down our budget as small as possible, but we still couldn’t make the numbers work.”

Being rurally located in Franklin and Oxford counties doesn’t help from a funding aspect either, he said.


“The problem with grants is that their cycles don’t coincide with what we’re doing,” he said. “Last year, it was our goal to have the festival paid for before it happened. We ended in the black after the festival, but not much in the black.”

The festival committee moved forward, hoping to secure the necessary funding it needed by June 1 to hold a second festival.

“What we found was that some funders were no longer in business,” McIntyre said. “We have an obligation not only to our artists but also to our funders. It’s not right to try to force something. It’s more responsible to not continue it, but it was a hard decision to come up with.

“None of us wanted to pull the plug,” he said. “But the reality is that you can’t get to the end of the festival and tell the artists and vendors you can’t pay them.”

Still, they went past their own cutoff date of June 1, “hoping to make something happen,” before throwing in the towel eight days later.

They had to let the artists know 100 days out that the festival was canceled so they could make other plans, McIntyre said.


However, some artists due in September from Scotland had already made commitments to the festival, such as getting U.S. visas, so McIntyre said he would try to fulfill those obligations by lining up shows during that time period.

McIntyre said he would continue to work with different venues and possibly try to hold a Skye Theatre Farewell Week when the Crossroads festival was to be held.

The Skye Theatre Performing Arts Center in Carthage will continue to bring world-renowned musicians to a local stage after it closes in September, he said.

Starting Sunday, June 22, with the Spain Brothers, Skye Theatre will bring concerts to the North Church in Farmington. Members of Farmington Historical Society, who own the church, will serve community meals prior to the performances.

It gives the historical society programming for their venue and allows McIntyre to continue the music and commitments he has made to artists.

“The music goes on, and that’s the important thing,” McIntyre said. “We are proud of what we accomplished in 2013. There is still lots of great music happening in the area and we hope you will continue to support the musicians and our local venues.”


Scot Grassette spoke highly of the Crossroads festival on Thursday. He and his wife, Cindy, hosted a festival show at their venue —  49 Franklin, a reception hall and Mystic Theater in Rumford.

“The acts were very high caliber,” Scot Grassette said. “People loved it! It was a great evening at an economical price and close to home.

“I think it’s very unfortunate that this cultural event has been cancelled,” he said. “Our communities will miss out on something that could be a boon to the area. I hope it will be picked up and carried out in the future.”

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