Strawberry Music Festival Permit Denied Over Safety Concerns

Posted on May 8, 2014 | by Jason Walsh

Last year’s devastating Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park was doused in October—but officials still have their dampers out for the area’s Strawberry Music Festival, which had its permit denied last week due to post-blaze safety concerns.

San Francisco city officials all but smothered hopes of the Strawberry Music Festival returning for its 33rd year this Labor Day Weekend, blaming the decision on post-fire water-supply problems and the danger of charred debris falling from burnt trees.

It took more than two months for firefighters to contain the 2013 Rim Fire, which started mid-August when a hunter allegedly failed to extinguish his campfire. It became the biggest wildfire in Sierra Nevada history—engulfing more than 250,000 acres of the Stanislaus National Forest.

Festival organizers are still holding out hope for the festival’s return this year, and are staging a Save the Strawberry Music Festival letter-writing campaign for music fans to weigh in and convince the department to reconsider its ruling on the permit; parks officials, however, say permit decisions cannot be appealed.

Since 1983, the guitar-heavy bluegrass festival has taken place in Stanislaus National Forest at Camp Mather, a city-owned family camp operated by the San Francisco Parks and Recreation Department. In their campaign to keep the festival mics on this year, Strawberry officials point out that the Rim Fire never reached Camp Mather and the family camp is scheduled to open as usual this summer. If the festival permit remains denied, it will mark the second year in a row of silence on the Strawberry stages; last year’s festival was canceled due to the fire.

Past Strawberry Music Festivals have attracted as many as 7,000 attendees; before it was canceled, last year’s festival lineup included such performers as the Del McCoury Band, Patty Griffin and Jerry Douglas.

For more information, visit

For a taste of Strawberry Music Festivals past, check out the above clip of Alison Krauss performing “Every Time You Say Goodbye” at the festival in 2012.

Receive lessons, songs, advice, and news like this straight to your inbox

Join the Strawberry Music Festival Permit Denied Over Safety Concerns discussion

Get all things acoustic guitar in your inbox with our free newsletters. Your E-mail: