September 22, 2020

PrestonMusicfestBy MARK LORENTZ
The sound of heavy rain hitting the tarps and tents wasn’t exactly the sound the organizers of the sixth annual Preston Music Festival were hoping to hear.
Matt and Jillian Storch, the  festival’s co-founders, almost saw six months of planning wash away, as heavy rain threatened the event on Sept.  21. There were technical issues with the electric wires, a small crowd in the morning, and an army truck which would be used to load food donations had yet to arrive. For a few hours, it seemed nothing would go right for this previously successful festival.
“We really can’t complain – this is the first year we have had rain. Every time we always just say, it won’t rain,” Jillian said.
The festival started off six years ago, when the Business Improvement Association approached the Storches, who at the time owned a small restaurant in downtown Preston, asking if they would be interested in helping organize an outdoor music festival. From the small beginnings when they asked friends to donate time and money, the event has grown to having more than 25 local sponsors. The festival itself costs around $12,000 to run every year.
“At first we had to knock on a lot of doors to get sponsors, but this year TD Bank actually came to us, that’s a huge corporation,” Matt said
The event features local talents, performing one-hour- long sets from noon until 11 at night. Every band that played this year also got paid, thanks in large part to the various sponsors. The festival had 11 performers, headlined by Bill Durst, the recent winner of the Blues Underground for best live blues album There was no admission price, however, it was recommended that spectators bring either a cash donation or a non-perishable food item to help the Cambridge Food Bank.
“We’ve always had the Cambridge Food Bank as our charity; we usually raise between 400-700 pounds,” said Matt.
The Cambridge Food Bank wasn’t the only charity at the event. Kin Canada was in charge of the food and beverage kiosk with proceeds going to cystic fibrosis research. Eric Ramijak, representing the Cambridge branch of Kin Canada, said they were hoping to at least break even for the event. In years past they served between 400-800 people.
“This event is so weather dependent, so we’re hoping it blows over soon and people start coming out. It helps we’re right by the beer tent,”  Ramijak said.
As the weather finally started to clear, people did come out to listen to the evening sets. Around 2,000 people attended the event overall, even with the wet and muddy conditions.
Cambridge city council member Nicholas Ermeta said events like this should happen more often. “Events like this bring the community together, it’s fantastic to see people enjoying themselves and talking to their neighbours.”
After the last song was played and the final tent taken apart, the organizers looked back on what went right and what they could improve on for next year’s festival.
“Definitely knowing how to deal with the rain better, being more prepared for any weather that day, would help,” Matt said.
The success of the festival is ultimately measured by how much food is raised for the food bank. This year was a disappointment, with less than 100 pounds donated
“(It’s) something we need to work on in future,” Matt said.
The Preston Music Festival is held the third week of September every year in the downtown core of Preston at Central Park.