International Festival canceled for 2012

Baltimore's International Festival, a 17-year-old city tradition that in recent years has included the annual Mayor's Cup soccer tournament and attracted such musical acts as Ashford & Simpson and Ledisi, has been canceled for 2012.

The festival had been scheduled for Aug. 4-5 at the Poly/Western fields off Cold Spring Lane. Festival chair Alvin O. Gillard said organizers canceled in hopes of attracting a "more diverse audience" for the 2013 festival.

"We really want to focus our energy toward next year," said Gillard, director of the city's Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement. "We want to make sure that we're giving the festival that the people of Baltimore deserve."

Gillard said that the festival usually draws between 20,000 and 25,000 people during its two-day run, and that attendance at last year's festival was up from 2010. But without being specific, he said that some segments of the Baltimore community have failed to support the festival. And he put the fault for that squarely on organizers' shoulders.

"We felt that it was one of the best-kept secrets in the city," he said. "We need to do a better job of marketing, of making the festival attractive to a more diverse audience."

Organizers had been debating the fate of this year's festival for some time, Gillard said. The final decision to cancel it was made in late April or early May, he said.

The eight-year-old Mayor's Cup soccer tourney has also been canceled and should return next year, Gillard said. The tourney featured teams from Baltimore and the surrounding region, with players representing their native countries.

Canceling the soccer tournament, which featured 20 teams in 2011, was especially difficult, Gillard said. "Folks have really grown to love that part of the festival," he said.

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