The Cornerstone Festival -- the Lollapalooza of Christian pop music -- has announced this year's event will be the last, ending a 29-year run in Illinois.
In a statement released last night, festival directors Genesis Winter & Scott Stahnke announced: "In 2012, we'll be celebrating one final Cornerstone Festival together. Based on a range of factors -- including changes in the market and a difficult economy -- the timing seems right. This was obviously a hard decision, wrestled with over years and particularly over recent months. But with the decision made, we have the opportunity to come together one last time and bring to a happy, grateful -- if tearful -- close to this chapter of our lives."
Cornerstone 2012 is scheduled for July 2-7 outside of Bushnell, Ill. Single-day tickets are $40, and full-week passes are $118 at the festival's web site.
Operated by Jesus People USA, based in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood and operators of one of the city's largest homeless shelters, the Cornerstone Festival has been in production since its debut in 1984 at the Lake County Fairgrounds. Since 1991 it has been held at the 650-acre Cornerstone Farm west of Peoria.
Cornerstone had just announced its lineup late in March, featuring a new three-stage set-up spotlighting acts such as Over the Rhine, Iona, the Choir, Eisley, the Chariot, Norma Jean, reunions of the OC Supertones and Squad Five-O, and a two-hour set by Neal Morse (Spock's Beard, Transatlantic).
"It's a bummer," says Jeff Elbel, a Chicago musician and writer who has played the festival 17 times as a member of various bands. "The festival has been a major touchstone annually, and a great source of community. ... Sad. We'll do our best to go out with a bang."