Hartwick SUNY Oneonta

SUNY Oneonta announced Wednesday some significant changes to OH-Fest.

The annual springtime tradition will continue next year under a slightly different name — O-Fest — and will be held on the SUNY Oneonta campus, according to a media release from the college.

SUNY Oneonta will be the sole sponsor of the concert, which will be held April 18, 2020, at the Alumni Field House.

Hartwick College will no longer sponsor the event, according to the release, but will continue to host the street carnival, another OH-Fest staple held each year in the city of Oneonta, according to Mayor Gary Herzig.

Hartwick College officials could not be reached for comment.

“We agree that we are going our separate ways for 2020 and will re-evaluate the 2021 event next fall,” said Bill Harcleroad, SA adviser and SUNY Oneonta director of campus activities and leadership.

The decision was made by the SUNY Oneonta Student Association, the student body’s elected legislature, according to Kim McLeod, associate director of communications.

Tim Nolan, president of the SUNY Oneonta Student Association, said the change of venue is in the best interest of students.

“The SA wants to ensure that we put the students’ activity money to good use for the spring concert. We don’t want to take the risk of having a concert planned to have it fall through as it happened last spring,” he said. “We are open to continuing the tradition. However, we need to do what’s best for the students.”

The student-organized concert and street fair have been sponsored jointly by both colleges since 2006.

Students were notified of the changes Monday, and city officials were informed Wednesday, according to the release.

The 2019 concert was canceled less than 36 hours after the city of Oneonta pulled a permit issued to the SUNY Oneonta Student Association to allow the performance in Neahwa Park.

City and college officials cited public safety concerns surrounding a planned protest of concert headliner Sean Kingston, a rapper accused but not convicted of rape in 2010.

Instead of finding another venue, college officials opted to cancel the concert altogether.

“Our decision came down to safety,” Franklin Chambers, vice president of student development at SUNY Oneonta, said in an April memo to the campus. “OH-Fest planning is a months-long process involving the city, Hartwick College and SUNY Oneonta. Given less than 36 hours to change the venue, we simply do not believe it would be possible to ensure the level of security we deem necessary for an event of this type and size.”

The 2020 headlining act has not yet been announced.

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at seames@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.

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