Interview with Ken Hays, Founder of Gathering of The Vibes  

Festival Starts on Thursday! 7/31-8/3

Seaside Park – Bridgeport Connecticut 

On Wednesday, July 16th I made a phone call to the founder of The Gathering of the Vibes, who was about to be interviewed by a future first time Vibes attendee. Two weeks and a day before the fest, Ken Hays undoubtedly had more important things to do, however he was more than gracious to take the time to speak with me.

Kelsey: I recently learned that the idea behind Gathering of the Vibes was to establish a common place for Grateful Dead fans to come together and celebrate the life of Jerry Garcia.

Ken: That was exactly the goal. After Jerry passed away, Dead heads nationwide began congregating to create gatherings in his memory and to keep his legacy going. The remaining Dead members worked to put on a show similar to the Human Be-In gathering in Golden Gate Park. Unfortunately the city denied these requests. Alongside others, I worked to create a memorial weekend festival where deadheads could come and remember and celebrate the spirit of Jerry Garcia. It was called Dead Head Heaven ‘Gathering of the Tribe’. The next year, 1998, it was renamed Gathering of the Vibes. It continued to take place in many different locations before permanently touching down in Bridgeport, CT at Seaside Park in 2007.

Kelsey: It is common for festivals to find permanent homes in cities where the locals are welcoming and appreciative of the abrupt rise in population, traffic and overall ruckus. Is this the case in Bridgeport?

Ken: Absolutely. Not only do the residents welcome festival goers, they also make up a large sum of the attendees. It is enjoyed by all- exactly how it was designed to be. The venue, with 73 acres of waterfront was donated to the city by Mayor Barnum with the intention that the land be utilized by all walks of life.

Kelsey: In addition to the heartfelt history and the scenic venue, what would you say separates GOTV from other music festivals?

Ken: Immediately you can see that GOTV is extremely family friendly. Last year we had approximately 2300 kids under 15 at the festival. We offer a family camping area, our School of Rock stage and Kids Corner packed with activities for children of all ages. This is certainly a festival where weekend babysitters are not necessary. My goal for Vibes every year is to be an annual reunion of friends and family with the backdrop of music. Not to say that the music is by any means a secondary factor to the overall experience.

Kelsey: That’s a given! The lineup this year is absolutely incredible. It seems as though every genre of music is represented and by such prominent and talented artists. Is there any specific region or genre that you aim for in particular?

Ken: We want every genre of music at our festival from gospel blues to rock and roll and reggae. We try to make it as unpredictable as possible. In addition to that, something we hold a high standard for are the frequent and unique artist collaborations. This year, The Disco Biscuits will be joined by Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann; something never done before. Lotus will be performing the music of The Talking Heads, the list goes on and there will for sure be unplanned renditions and more collaboration. Expect the unexpected.

Come join us at Vibes this weekend!

Full Lineup and Festival Details:


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