No Gathering of the Vibes in 2016

The Gathering of the Vibes, which for some two decades has brought a long summer weekend of music to Bridgeport, will not return for 2016

Founder and operator Ken Hays wrote in a letter posted online on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, that festival organizers hope to return for 2017.

"Producing the Vibes as an independent promoter is an [sic] challenging endeavor, and after 20 years we need a time out," Hays wrote.

Hays, a Weston resident, first “gathered the vibes” in 1996 for a festival named Deadhead Heaven: A Gathering of the Tribe to honor the life and music of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead.

The Gathering of the Vibes Music, Arts, and Camping Festival in Seaside Park in Bridgeport had grown from 3,500 participants to the more than 25,000.

Hays grew up in Greenwich as a self-proclaimed Grateful Dead aficionado. He spent many nights as a young man frequenting their shows, and making friends within the Deadhead community, and especially “having fun right out of college.”

In a 2012 HAN Network article, Hays said he had always been inspired by bringing communities together in “the spirit of music,” and realized that he wanted to honor the fellowship felt by so many Grateful Dead fans by planning a memorial show for Jerry Garcia.

In 1996, he and a few friends began planning Deadhead Heaven on the campus of SUNY Purchase, which had agreed to the show without realizing it would be a Jerry Garcia memorial concert.

The festival subsequently was held on 370 acres of land next to the University of Bridgeport, originally donated to Bridgeport by then-Mayor P.T. Barnum.

Christopher Burns contributed to this story.