Pocock music festival to take hiatus until 2016

BRISTOL — Pocock Rocks, Bristol’s annual summer music festival on Main Street, will not happen this year, but organizers said it will make a triumphant return in 2016.

The Bristol Downtown Community Partnership, the principal organizer of the event, decided not to hold Pocock this year because of a lack of resources.

“We didn’t have enough hands to pull it off,” said BDCP board member Darla Senecal, who also serves as Bristol’s recreation director.

And the organization itself is also looking to better define its own direction.

The BDCP organized the first Pocock Rocks in 2009 and the festival soon grew into one of Bristol’s premiere annual events. This year would have been the festival’s seventh iteration.

Carolyn Ashby, who chairs the BDCP board, said the group is without an executive director and is currently in the process of reorganizing, and organizing Pocock just became too much.

“It takes a huge number of people and a significant amount of money to make Pocock happen, and we’re coming up short on that right now,” she explained.

In addition to those reasons, Ashby noted that construction crews are renovating Bristol’s main intersection, which would have made planning the event even more difficult.

“Physically, it’s going to be a little tricky to put a trailer there when there are bulldozers,” she said.

Ashby said the BDCP had wanted to make a decision on the fate of this year’s festival in January, but ultimately pulled the plug in March. Senecal said the hiatus does not have anything to do with last year’s Pocock. About 2,000 people came out to the festival last June, which featured more than 20 vendors and a half dozen musical acts.

“We had a great turnout and great music,” Senecal said.

“Last year did go really well,” Ashby added. “It is a bummer not to do it this year.”

Ashby said the BDCP will make the best of the hiatus. The group will hold a meeting on May 4 in Bristol to discuss the future of the organization and of Pocock Rocks.

“We’re looking at what our options are, to make sure we get those things covered, to best serve the organization and community,” she said.

REDEFINING THE GROUP

Ashby said the group hopes to redefine its mission, better outline the position of executive director and even consider changing its name.

“It’s a little bit of rebranding,” she explained. “With the new focus, a new identity will come along with that.”

The BDCP formed in 2006, the same year Bristol became a Vermont Designated Downtown. The original purpose of the group was to oversee the renovation of Prince Lane and downtown to make the area more appealing and better for business and tourism. It has also helped improve the playground and the town green.

Crews began work on the Prince Lane project last summer and completed it in October. The project made the parking lot safer for drivers and pedestrians by narrowing lanes and adding crosswalks, and make aesthetic improvements such as screening in garbage cans.

With the Prince Lane beautification complete, Ashby said now is the right time to reevaluate the BDCP’s priorities.

“Prince Lane was the signature project, and that got finished last year,” Ashby said. “So the big thing is done, but now what?”

The BDCP meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, May 4, in Holley Hall.

Ashby said that while the group is disappointed to cancel Pocock this year, it now has more time to plan next year’s comeback.

“We’ll know this spring who is interested in helping with Pocock next year, and they can start working on it in September or October,” Ashby said. “If you can get on that early, you can build a lineup that’s top-notch. We’ll come back with a big splash.”

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