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No Vexfest this summer



Published: Thu, August 16, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

The reason you haven’t heard anything about Vexfest this summer is because there won’t be one.

The annual rock festival in downtown Youngstown typically takes place on a Sunday in mid-August. This year would have been the ninth one, but it never got off the ground.

Show organizers Fred Rafidi, John Jones and Dan Crump have been too busy with careers and families and could not find the considerable amount of time needed to put together the massive all-day street festival. Last year’s Vexfest featured 57 local, regional and national bands and drew thousands.

The three decided a couple months ago to cancel the festival this year, but word has been slow to filter to the music fans who look forward to it.

Rafidi, who is an attorney, also owned Barley’s, the West Federal Street bar that served as a sort of headquarters for Vexfest. Rafidi closed the nightspot less than a year ago and sold the building, which remains unoccupied. He and his Vexfest partners will meet after the first of the year to discuss the future of the festival.

“We’re thinking about doing it again,” said Rafidi, suggesting there might be changes. The day of the week, start and finish times and types of music will be re-evaluated, said Rafidi.

“We had a nice run the way it was, but things are changing,” said Rafidi. “We’re getting older. And people now live downtown in apartments. [Vexfest] might have to end earlier.”

Last year, Vexfest ended at 2 a.m. on a Monday morning.

Jonesfest abandons plan to move to downtown

And yet another rock festival won’t be happening downtown. Jonesfest was all set to move its annual event back to the city. The fest had been at Nelson Ledges the past few years.

It was supposed to be Sept. 30 on West Federal Street, but the band pulled the plug when it couldn’t raise enough money. Instead, Jonesfest will be back at Nelson Ledges on Sept. 14 and 15. Jones for Revival will play both nights. Also on the bill are 5 Elements, Moser Woods, The Bees Trees and more to be announced. Admission is $30 for both days (includes camping) and $20 for just Saturday.

Roxfest will return

One festival that continues to grow is Roxfest, which will be Aug. 24 and 25 at Buffalo Hollow, down in the Petersburg area of southeast Mahoning County.

Roxfest 5 will feature about 30 bands on two stages. Vendors will be set up on the festival grounds

Gates open at 4 p.m. Aug. 24 and 11 a.m. Aug. 25. Tickets are $10 for a day pass ($15 at the gate), and $20 for a weekend pass, which includes camping ($25 at the gate). Buy tickets at roxfest.com, The Drum Smith in Struthers and Hawaiian Joe’s Tattoo in Salem.

5 Elements releases record

Local reggae-rockers 5 Elements will have a CD-release show Friday at Cedars in Youngstown. The band’s new record, “Enter the Zao,” is available on iTunes and also will be sold at the show.

film will open in columbus

“General Education,” a film written and directed by Pelican House Productions of California, which includes Hubbard native Tom Morris, will start its theatrical run Sept. 7 at Gateway Film Center in Columbus. No Youngstown-area screening has been scheduled.

Local rock musician killed

Robert Boak, 33, of Austintown, was killed Monday night when he was struck by a vehicle while walking across Midlothian Boulevard in Youngstown. Boak was a bass player who had been in several bands, including metal acts Io and K-Awake.


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