For Strawberry Music Fest, no news is bad news

Gary Linehan, The Union Democrat /

Strawberry Music Festival organizers are "appealing to the court of public opinion" in their efforts to obtain a permit for a Labor Day weekend festival at Camp Mather.

Festival co-founder Charlie Cran said Wednesday he was given a verbal denial by the head of the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department about a month ago and has received no other information since then.

"They have refused to answer our queries," he said.

Camp Mather is owned and operated by the City and County of San Francisco.

The Strawberry festivals have taken place at Camp Mather since the fall of 1983. A spring festival was added in 1986 and the gatherings have been held there each spring and fall since then.

The 2013 fall festival was cancelled days before opening because of the Rim Fire. Firefighters were able to save the camp, but the surrounding area was scorched, including land within the Stanislaus National Forest.

Fall of 2013 also marked the end of Strawberry's existing five-year lease at Camp Mather. Cran said he attempted to start new contract negotiations with the city in January but park officials "never responded to our inquiries in any way."

Festival managers have been trying since then to get a permit for this fall.

Everyone involved agreed a spring festival, usually held over Memorial Day weekend, was impossible due to the severity of the fire damage in the area.

Chances for a fall festival were dealt a setback when Susan Skalski, supervisor of the Stanislaus National Forest, expressed her opposition to the granting of a permit in a March 5 letter to Recreation and Parks General Manager Phil Ginsburg.

For the complete story, see the May 2, 2014, edition of The Union Democrat.

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