05 Mar Why do the festival leave Samois’s island ?
For 48 years, the biggest jazz artists from all gypsy styles came to play on « l’île du Berceau ». Samois became a myth for all musicians who gathered here to pay tribute to the biggest jazz guitarist buried in Samois.
The island is under water due to a flood almost as high as the one of 1910. On June 4th last year, Samois’Mayor took the decision to forbid the access of the island. We only had 18 days to find a new place for the festival and obtain official authorisations.
Frederic Valletoux, the mayor of Fontainebleau (at 4 kilometers of samois) and Jean-François Hebert, the president of the castle of Fontainebleau, offered to host the 37th edition of the festival. 200 volunteers worked hard to make it possible to open the festival on time. The festival was saved in spite of a small financial deficit.
Security standards for open air events were reinforced after several dramatic events that happened in our country those last two years. According to the authorities (firefighters, police), the island is a site at risk : it is very narrow, the evacuation lanes are insufficients, emergency exits are lacking, the bridge available cannot support heavy trucks, the risk of drowning needs to be taken into account too, as we are on an island.
Since september 2016, in collaboration with local authorities of samois, we have contacted the departemental emergency services, in charge of the safety commission, the police station in charge of the security of the event. We asked for advice. The answer was that we would have small hope to get the autorisation from the safety and security commission to be allowed to open the festival, even with less festival-goers on the island. The commission takes place the first day of the festival. We could not spend money in preparing the festival, work all year with a risk to get a negative answer of the commission just before its opening.
We met numerous time with Mister Didier Maus, mayor of Samois, to find another place for the festival in Samois. We did not find any fied that could fit to the required security standards.
On December 18th 2016, the mayor and the association publicly announced that we could not organise the festival on « l’île du Berceau ». Almost all members of the assocation are from Samois. It has been a hard decision to make but we have not other choice because of the security requirements we now have to take into account.
Either we had to stop the festival after 48 years, or we could move the event to a more adequate place to keep the festival alive.
Fontainebleau and the president of the castle welcomed us in 2016 and accepted to renew this experience in 2017.
The city of Fontainebleau is very dynamic, touristic. Jazz tradition is born in Fontainebleau after the second world war, with the NATO troups. The city host the Jazz au Théâtre festival since 5 years and other events like the « Serie, Series » festival. The castle of Fontainebleau welcomed 500 000 visitors in 2016, a lot of them coming from abroad.
It is a chance for the festival to be welcomed on a such prestigious place at only 4 km of Samois.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN FOR THE 2017 EDITION ?
Two parts :
– Saturday July 1st : Opening of the festival in Samois. Concerts on the village square with concerts from 12 a.m. to 12 p.m.
▸ July 6th to 9th : 4 days of musicin the parc of Fontainebleau castle, 2 stages with one dedicated to gypsy jazz, an instrument’s makers village
The place is just next to the city center and the castle. Gypsy Jazz will still be the identity of the festival.
We hope that we answered your questions. It is a bet we need to make. We need your support in order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the festival in 2018 and continue to hold high Django Reinhardts’music and name.
Have a great 2017 festival in Samois and Fontainebleau.
The festival team