Stern Grove, the beloved longtime summer series of free outdoor concerts, has attracted thousands of fans for decades. (Courtesy Stern Grove Festival)

83rd Stern Grove canceled due to pandemic

S.F. free summer concert series called off for first time in history

The 83rd Stern Grove Festival won’t be happening in 2020.

San Francisco’s beloved, perennially jam-packed free music festival in Sigmund Stern Grove in the Sunset, scheduled for Sundays from June 14-Aug. 16, has been canceled for the first time in its history as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In these unprecedented times, and in an abundance of caution for the safety and well-being of our staff, artists, audience and the community, we made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s festival,” Bob Fiedler, the festival’s executive director, announced today. “We are grateful to our board, sponsors and donors, whose support makes it possible to retain our core staff and turn our focus to planning for the 2021 season. We’ll be back better than ever,” he added.

The lineup would have included headliners Animal Collective, Jimmy Cliff, Cuco, Billy Ray Cyrus, Macy Gray, Hanson, San Francisco Ballet, San Francisco Symphony, Tank and the Bangas and Tower of Power, as well as up-and-comers Emily Afton, Cindy Lee, North Mississippi Allstars, The Onyx, Megan Slankard and Ana Tijoux.

Organizers say they hope to reschedule some the acts for the 2021 season.

Starting June 14, however, the festival will offer Best of the Fest, an online video series with highlights from previous concerts – Sheila E. in 2012, Pink Martini in 2013, the Doobie Brothers in 2015 and George Clinton in 2016 — hosted by TV and radio personality Liam Mayclem and continuing through Aug. 16.

The schedule will be posted at https://www.sterngrove.org/ on May 31. Viewers can tune in to the shows, as well as new virtual arts education programs, on the festival website, or on YouTube or Facebook.

Noting that the outdoor series typically attracts some 75,000 visitors to the park, officials say festival operations will continue thanks to contributions including a challenge grant in which donations from individuals will be matched. To donate, visit https://www.sterngrove.org/support/.

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