Zimfest Updates and 2024 Announcement

Greetings Zimfest community,

The Zimfest Board and I want to communicate with you all before too much time passes about plans for next year. We have, regretfully, decided not to try to produce an in-person festival in 2024. The reasons are many: you may recall that we had planned to hold Zimfest 2020 at The Evergreen State College in Olympia WA when the COVID pandemic hit. We also had hopes of going there in subsequent years, but their Conference Services informed us last year that they can no longer accommodate a group of our size during the summer. Due to the lack of planning for alternate sites, we have been in the position of hastily arranging in-person festivals at venues that are new to this Organizing Committee both in 2022 (Skagit Valley Fairgrounds in Mt. Vernon, WA) and this year (OSU in Corvallis, OR). Organizing for a new site (housing and dining details, registration, facilities, contractual obligations, etc.) is extremely time-consuming and a drain on the resources of the OC. There is currently no site (university or otherwise) lined up for next year. Rather than scrambling to arrange for a venue, we have decided to step back and take a break for 2024. The core of the current hard-working OC has been together for several years now and needs a rest; the ZA Board, with the support of the community, needs to apply its energy towards long-range planning for the future. We hope to work on a five-year plan in which all possibilities are on the table: moving to a festival every other year, alternating between agreed-upon sites in Oregon and Washington, etc.

Other comments:

  • Minutes for the Village Meeting will be posted very soon, for those were unable to attend. The decision to pause the festival in 2024 was made at the Sept. 10 board meeting, minutes of which will also be posted soon. While there will be no in-person festival, online and/or local activities may be considered.
  • As always, it takes (more than!) a village to produce Zimfest, and that includes our village hosts! Thank Yous for those who contributed to the 2023 festival have been posted here.
  • We appreciate your taking time to fill out the post-festival survey, and several members of the OC and board have gone through the responses. There are a number of useful suggestions which we hope to take up in the coming months. There are also some comments on issues that we had no control over. For example, more than one person complained about having to pay for a triple room that they didn’t need:
    • OSU Housing and Dining proved awkward for Zimfest to work with as most of their summer conference groups are youth camps. We were not notified of the distribution of rooms in our assigned dorm (McNary Hall) until just before we opened the registration system. At that point we were unhappy and frustrated to learn that most of the rooms were so-called “economy” triples, with elevated beds that our mostly-adult participants do not care for. We would need to contract for different dorms with more single rooms if Zimfest were to return to OSU.
    • Some survey respondents who were not renting rooms in the dorms had complaints about not being allowed access to McNary during concerts. All activities in and access to the dorms must be approved by the OSU Office of Youth Safety & Compliance. As access to the dorm stairwells and elevators (as well as outside doors) are controlled electronically, we had to negotiate to allow non-dorm residents access to the upstairs lounges while Zimfest workshops were taking place. The Youth Safety people were not happy about letting non-dorm residents into McNary, but allowed it for Zimfest 2023 workshops.
  • On a more positive note, most Zimfest participants and performers loved having all concerts outside on one stage. We took the opportunity to make all evening concerts by donation so that all Zimbabweans could perform during evening concerts without worries about visa restrictions, and were happy to see the supportiveness of concert attendees in paying the requested donations. There was a request, however, to move the mostly-Zimbabwean concert to Friday or Saturday so that more Americans (many of whom leave on Sunday) could enjoy it. We want you to know that few of the American bands were available to perform on Sunday—that is why we had more Zimbabweans performing then!

Thanks for reading, you will be hearing more from us soon!
Claire Jones, Zimfest Coordinator

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One Comment on “Zimfest Updates and 2024 Announcement

  1. Julie Ishihara says:

    Hello all. So sorry I missed Zimfest this year. A little far from our new Hawaiian home!
    I want to applaud the decision to skip next year’s festival and hold it in 2025. As a former board member and organizer of many past festivals, I am very aware of how much work, how many resources and how many people it takes to put on this festival.
    We are lucky to have a core of dedicated individuals who pull together this festival every year. This group, however, is rather few in number and everyone is a volunteer with the exception of our paid coordinator, Claire Jones, who is certainly not being paid enough for the amount of work that she does (!)
    It just makes sense to take next year off and allow more time to plan and develop the next festival. It also allows other Zimbabwean festivals to happen next year without competition from Zimfest – Ted Wright’s Nhema North, for example.
    I also have no doubt that Zimfest 2025 will be well attended. People’s warm memories of Zimfest do not fade away with a year break in between (Covid showed us that!) and the excitement to return will always be there!