By JACKSON GUILFOIL | | Eureka Times-Standard
Photo: The Reggae On The River music festival could return this year, depending on the decision from the Mateel Community Center and the festival’s management team. (Times-Standard file)

After a hiatus brought on by a 2019 cancellation, then the pandemic in the subsequent years, the Mateel Community Center’s Board of Directors are discussing whether or not to bring the Reggae On The River music festival back this year.

“We’re trying to come to a consensus internally on whether or not to pursue it happening this year. Some members of the festival management team really think it’s going to happen this year, and some are more skeptical, and that is also true of our board. We try and put out a united front when we’ve come to a consensus, but we’re still debating it internally,” Shiloh Croybaker, general manager of the community center, said.

Croybaker noted he expects an announcement regarding the festival to happen “very soon.”

Reggae On The River, which began in 1984 to benefit the Mateel Tribe, had its last show in 2018. While the festival has historically provided significant benefit to the Mateel Community Center, Croybaker listed a number of issues that contributed to the festival’s decline.

“The event had lost considerable money in 2015, 2016 and 2017, and there was debate about why it was losing money, whether it was financial mismanagement, which is one public claim, or if it was declining sales or bad predictions on attendance. There’s a lot of finger-pointing about who was to blame,” Croybaker said.

2019’s festival was canceled by High Times, a cannabis-themed production company that was putting on the event that year, ending a brief partnership with the Mateel Community Center, which was financially struggling.

Part of the internal discussion over whether to hold the event focuses on how easy it will be to conjure a compelling line-up of artists this late in the year, according to John Bruno, a board member whose wife was instrumental in the festival’s creation in 1983, then putting on the first event in 1984.

“It is just lining up all the right acts to bring the musical population here to our Southern Humboldt area. We have to start advertising at the beginning of the year, and we’re already into March,” Bruno said.

Bruno added the festival’s appeal extends beyond Humboldt County, and his friends in the Bay Area are asking if the festival will happen this year.

Regardless if the event happens this year or in 2023, Croybaker noted that it will be refreshing to attend once again with the usual cast of volunteers and helpers.

“We know that our relaunch is really important and that there will be a tremendous amount of scrutiny. We know we could do it this year, but it has to be really close to perfect,” Croybaker said.

Those seeking updates on the festival may sign up at

Jackson Guilfoil can be reached at 707-441-0506.