Future of BayFest remains up in the air

By Brenton Awa
Published On: May 07 2013 07:47:28 PM HST
Updated On: May 07 2013 07:47:40 PM HST

Since BayFest was cancelled for two years, what is the future of the popular summer event?

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, Hawaii -

The latest round of federal budget cuts have hit Hawaii's military causing the cancellation of BayFest 2013.  The festival was scheduled for the first week in August but its future remains up in the air.

Kailua town is full of people passionate about the annual bash held just down the road in Kaneohe.  Twenty-five thousand people show up every year.

On Tuesday, our news crew stopped by the Kalapawai Market in Kailua to hear what locals thought about not having BayFest around.

Paula Morath was behind the counter making sandwiches, and had already planned on going to BayFest this year.  She hoped we were there to give away free tickets.  Instead, we broke the news to her.

"I was kind of shocked but understanding the furloughs we're going through, things are tight right now.  I can understand where they have to make certain cuts," said Morath.

Others feel the same way. We ran into Shirley Ratajczyk at Muddy Waters Cafe just down the road.  She says her family has been attending the event for over eight years.

"That's a shame, but as soon as they said it was cancelled, we knew exactly why," said Ratajczyk.

On Tuesday, a Marine Corps Community Service representative explained the decision.  The latest federal budget cuts may force furloughs of up to 1,500 civilian workers at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii.  The two-and-a-half-day event takes 1,000 workers to run and more six months to plan.

"The manpower behind it is the most difficult piece of BayFest and really why we have to cancel it," said Bobbie Brock, MCCS Special Events Coordinator.

"You can't just move funds around, each dollar is specifically put in a certain pot of money and its difficult to move those around to pay for such a large event," said Pamela Marshall, Base Public Affairs Officer.

We're told that financially the festival rarely does anything but break even.  A headlining act can cost anywhere from $20,000 to 30,000. This would have been the 22nd festival in Hawaii.

"It is sad but like I said we have to be fiscally responsible," said Brock.

"It's unfortunate because of the community aspect, we really like to have the community come out to the base, and host them and show them what we do," said Marshall.

"It's just a festive couple of days that they have over there and we've always enjoyed it, always," said Ratajcyk.

MCCS isn't ruling out a return in the future, but isn't guaranteeing one, either.

Also worth noting -- BayFest did not happen last year.  Instead, it was replaced by the popular Kaneohe Air Show that recorded an attendance of around 100,000 people.

MCCS says it will host either one event or the other per year but not both.  Next year's focus will be bringing BayFest back.

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