Green River Festival moving to Franklin County Fairgrounds for 2021

  • Michael Franti & Spearhead performs on the main stage during the 2018 Green River Festival at Greenfield Community College. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE  

Staff Writer
Monday, March 15, 2021

GREENFIELD — When it returns in August, the Green River Festival, which has been held at Greenfield Community College since 1986, will instead set up at the Franklin County Fairgrounds.

Festival Director Jim Olsen, co-founder of Signature Sounds Recordings in Northampton, said the college couldn’t commit to opening its campus to the public until fall, so the festival needed to find an alternate site.

“We’ve been using the fairgrounds for camping for the festival since 2016,” Olsen said. “It’s an amazing facility.”

Olsen said he’s not sure how large the GCC campus is, but the fairgrounds has a “larger usable space.” He said there are 28 usable acres at the fairgrounds, so not only will the festival be held there, but campers will be welcomed back at the same time.

“There’s a lot of parking, but not as much as at GCC, so we’re working on figuring that out,” he said. “It will be a combination of on- and off-site parking, and we’ll have shuttles.”

Olsen said campers will occupy one area (to be determined) of the fairgrounds and the festival will be spread throughout. The festival will most likely use the pavilion and grandstand area, and organizers are currently planning to have music in the historic Roundhouse.

“That will be awesome,” Olsen said. “We’ll have our typical three main stages. We’ll be announcing the lineup in the spring.”

Michael Nelson, president of the Franklin County Agricultural Society, which operates the fairgrounds, said those involved would not be against the Green River Festival deciding to stay at the fairgrounds for future years.

“We’d certainly be willing to work with them,” Nelson said. “We’ve had festival campers here since 2016 — not last year because of the pandemic — and the sound people are amazing to work with. They’re great partners.”

Nelson said the agricultural society is “very enthusiastic” and loves that the festival will become part of the history at the fairgrounds.

“It’s so exciting,” he said.

Olsen said the festival has, in past years, typically accommodated 6,000 people per day, and he hopes for the same this year.

“Of course, we’ll be following state and local guidelines for social distancing and such, so those plans will all come in time,” he said. “Things seem to be trending in the right direction concerning COVID and President (Joe) Biden is saying everyone will have the opportunity to be vaccinated by late May.”

Olsen said the dates of Aug. 27 through Aug. 29 were chosen to give a little more time for people to be vaccinated and feel safe returning to the music festival. (The event is typically held in July.) It was canceled last year because of the pandemic.

Tickets for the 2021 Green River Festival go on sale March 17 at noon. All tickets held from the canceled 2020 festival will be honored for 2021. For those not able to attend the 2021 festival, refunds will be offered through March 16. Ticket information is available at greenriverfestival.com.