By SAMANTHA PIDDE
Mayfest, Mount Carroll’s long-running signature community festival, is planning to return in 2019 after missing 2018 — and to be held on the former Shimer College (Campbell Center) campus.
Event organizers announced via social media Friday afternoon, Jan. 25, that the Mayfest Steering Committee had signed a facility use agreement with The Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation, the new owners of the property and buildings that were once Shimer College and most recently Campbell Center.
Terms of the agreement indicate the popular music and arts festival which attracts thousands of visitors will return to the campus this spring on Memorial Day Weekend, May 24-26.
The 36th annual Mayfest was held in 2017, but no festival was held in 2018, primarily due to the closing of Campbell Center and not being able find a suitable replacement location.
Brian Hollenback, president and CEO of the Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation, confirmed Friday afternoon in a telephone interview with the Mirror-Democrat that his organization is dedicated to work with the Mayfest Committee to ensure Mayfest returns to the campus this year.
Hollenback said it has always been the corporation's intention to bring the Mayfest back to the property, saying, "It was one of the first things we discussed, that we'd like to bring it back.”
Hollenback added that he hopes Mayfest serves as a first demonstration to the local community that the Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation’s goal is to serve Mount Carroll, the artists and the local organizations which benefit from Mayfest.
"I'm glad it happened quickly," Hollenback told the Mirror-Democrat about finalizing the facility use agreement with the Mayfest Steering Committee.
He said the Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation's initial plans (Phase 1) include stabilizing Sawyer House to use as an office, as well as focusing on Mayfest. This summer the company plans to begin the development of residential housing for two campus buildings.
Hollenback said it is the company’s goal to continue to update the community as plans are formed for the project. He emphasized a desire to remain transparent and indicated more information on the corporation and the project should be available at Mayfest.
"Our hope is that the community will rally around bringing Mayfest back," Hollenback said.
Mayfest Steering Committee coordinator Brandon Ballard did not respond to an email request for comment from the Mirror-Democrat before the newspaper went to press Tuesday, Jan. 29.
Updates on the festival and bands are expected to be available on the Mayfest’s Facebook page.
Interested vendors can sign up and donations to Mayfest can be made at https://mayfestvending.eventbrite.com.