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Local nonprofit considers revival of beloved annual festival after unexpected cancellation: 'It feels like the right time'

"We want people to feel the inspiration and excitement that we feel."

"We want people to feel the inspiration and excitement that we feel."

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Attention all music and planet hybrid enthusiasts: Mark your calendars for Father's Day 2025 — the Clearwater Festival could be making a comeback.

As reported by Gary Stern in the Rockland/Westchester Journal News, the RiverFest for Pete's Sake nonprofit is looking to raise money and relaunch the festival at Croton Point Park under a new name: Hudson River Folk Festival. 

The hope is to bring back the same ideals and sentiments of the Clearwater Festival founded by Pete and Toshi Seeger, who raised awareness about the pollution in the Hudson River and inspired cleanup efforts to the sound of music.

The Clearwater Festival, also called the Great Hudson River Revival, was an environmental and music celebration started in the '60s and founded formally in 1978. The event drew in massive crowds over the years, raising awareness for environmental issues and boasting music from the likes of Arlo Guthrie, Ani DiFranco, Joan Osborne, and of course Pete himself.

The largest of its kind, the festival had a good run until 2016 when financial troubles hit. It was on and off for a few years, even going virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic before it was officially canceled by the organization in 2022 for lack of funding, the Journal News reported.

Fortunately, some people are fighting to bring it back to life and spread awareness about water pollution, and that's great news for all of us — and especially for the Hudson River. The Environmental Protection Agency declared 200 miles of it a superfund site in 1984, the Riverkeeper organization explained.

Forty years later, the Superfund status hasn't changed, and the river is still polluted with hazardous materials.

Creating awareness encourages change and builds a stronger community of people willing to work together to make this world cleaner.

The festival also inspired a separate one in New Jersey, the NJ Clearwater Festival of Music and the Environment, which is planning its 49th annual event later this year.

Fingers crossed, the Hudson River Folk Festival will premier at Croton Point Park in June of next year in Westchester County, New York, to promote a healthier, brighter future.

"It feels like the right time. We're coming off a few years of separation and isolation," RiverFest for Pete's Sake president Mitzi Elkes said, per the Journal News. "We want to honor the legacy of Pete and Toshi Seeger, the history of the festival, and look forward to the future, to plan the next 50 years of music and environmental celebration."

Elkes is also a longtime board member of the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, an organization started by the Seegers and others in 1969 in an effort to protect the Hudson River. The nonprofit secured a pledge of $150,000 from an anonymous donor to revive the festival, but Elkes told the Journal News it needs to raise $800,000 more.

Elkes mentioned the organization is interested in corporate sponsors, individual donors, and corporate grants and that interested parties can contact the nonprofit at info@riverfestfps.org.

"We want people to feel the inspiration and excitement that we feel," she told the Journal News.

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