The state Division of Culture and History will significantly scale back this year's Vandalia Gathering to focus more attention on the state's 150th birthday celebration in June.
While the annual Vandalia Gathering usually is scheduled for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday on Memorial Day weekend, this year's festival will only be held on Friday and Saturday.
Caryn Gresham, deputy commissioner of culture and history, said the schedule of events also would be smaller. The festival will not feature any craft vendors or dancing, and only a few food vendors.
The Vandalia Gathering still will feature concerts and musical competitions, as well as its annual quilting competition. All those events will be held inside the Culture Center or its plaza, however, not outside on the Capitol grounds.
Gresham said the other Vandalia mainstays will be moved to the state's sesquicentennial celebration in June. The combined event will be known as the "Vandalia Gathering at the Sesquicentennial."
"What we decided to do this year was scale back Vandalia to its music roots . . . and invite the craft vendors and the food vendors who participate in Vandalia to come instead to the sesquicentennial celebration," she said.
The June event will feature a concert stage, a craft circle, a dancefloor for square dancers and a cooking competition. Gresham said Culture and History also would invite all the music contest winners from the Vandalia Gathering to return in June and perform onstage.
She said officials decided to combine the Vandalia and the sesquicentennial celebration because it would have been difficult to hold two major events so close together.
"It would have been really hard for us to do both," she said. "This is a unique situation for us. You don't have a big statehood celebration every year. We just tried to find a way to keep Vandalia and do the core thing, which is the music, and participate with sesquicentennial."
Now, Gresham said Culture and History is trying to get the word out to Vandalia Gathering faithful. She said the division already has notified vendors about the changes, and plans to send out postcards in mid to late-April to everyone else.
Some craft vendors are disappointed because they have already committee to other events during the June Sesquicentennial event, Gresham said.
She emphasized the cutbacks are only temporary, however.
"Next year, Vandalia will be right back," she said.