Music festival may have to get out of Dodd

Norwich - The Podunk Bluegrass Festival likely will be looking for a new home again, at least for 2013. Scheduling conflicts could prevent the event from returning to the Thomas J. Dodd Memorial Stadium next year.

The Podunk festival moved from West Hartford to Norwich in August after problems arose with the former longtime venue for the popular four-day music and camping event.

"Join us in Norwich August 1-4, 2013!!" the Podunk website says. But the Connecticut Tigers minor league baseball team released its 2013 schedule last week, and it shows the Tigers playing four straight home games on those four days, followed by a long road trip Aug. 5-11 as the team prepares the field to host the 2013 All-Star game festivities Aug. 12 and 13.

C. Roger Moss, Norwich recreation director and Podunk promoter, said he has known about the conflict for the past month and has been discussing the issue with Tigers General Manager CJ Knudsen and the Podunk board of directors.

The board, Moss said, loves Norwich and wants the event to stay in the Rose City. Moss met Monday with Knudsen to see whether the Tigers could adjust the schedule. The two also discussed possibly having the bluegrass festival Aug. 1-4 during the day and the four Tigers games at night.

"That would change our schedule drastically," Moss said.

The festival has held concerts and music workshops throughout the day followed by marquee performances during the evenings.

Moss said the Podunk board is considering alternative sites in the Norwich area, but declined to identify any.

"The committee wants to definitely keep it in Norwich," he said. "We like the area. There's a lot to offer here."

Mayor Peter Nystrom said he received an email from the Podunk board several weeks ago asking for assistance in finding a new location. He pledged to work with the group.

"I'm certainly willing to roll up my sleeves and dig in my heels and help them stay in Norwich," Nystrom said. "We certainly want to keep them in Norwich."

Knudsen said the conflict arose because the Tigers were awarded the 2013 All-Star game.

"Hosting the All-Star game makes the dates super tight," Knudsen said of the baseball schedule. "We can't do it (the festival) a week later, because we have to get the field ready for the game. Mid-July would be perfect, but there are a lot of other festivals going on at that time."

c.bessette@theday.com

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