September 28, 2021

Annual Seedstock music festival canceled

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Tyler Coakley, Seedstock music festival organizer, puts the finishing touches on the main stage on Route 215 in Cortlandville in this 2016 Cortland Standard file photo.

When Seedstock first came to Cortlandville, Layah Cullip was 17. She had attended small concerts in a park and on Main Street in Cortland, but never a music festival.

Being from Cortland, Cullip noted the area had never had events like that in the past, she said. It was unique, exciting, and brought the community together through its love of music.

“I was blown away because I had never seen anything like that in Cortland or ever in my life being only 17,” said Cullip, who now helps to organize the festival. “Obviously I was very young and a lot of people didn’t know who I was but everyone rallied me in and welcomed me with open arms.”

Founders Chris Merkley and Tyler Coakley announced the cancellation of this year’s festival Sunday, saying the COVID-19 pandemic forced delays in planning, they wrote on Facebook.

“At the time when we were supposed to be booking bands back in the winter, things were so uncertain,” Merkley said. “For us to have confidence in hosting the festival that we wanted, and the festival it has been, we felt at that time, we’d have to compromise certain aspects of the festival.”

The festival was also canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re not doing it this year,” Cullip said. “I’m a little bummed, but I’d rather wait an extra year to be able to fully have that experience again and have other people have that experience, too.”

Seedstock, a two-day music festival that drew crowds greater than 1,200, began as a house party, said Merkley, who has performed at the festival every year since its start in 2008. Then housemates Coakley, Jamie Yaman and Mac Coats contacted Merkley about performing on their property alongside
a handful of local artists.

As attendance grew over the years, organizers Merkley and Coakley moved the festival to Reed Seeds on Route 215 in Cortlandville, which inspired the name of the festival, Merkley said. With the expansion came larger crowds, additional days and bands from outside of the region.

However, Merkley and Coakley still want to have music this year for the Seedstock fans. They plan events at Rose Hall at Central Avenue and Church Street in Cortland, Merkley said. The venue can host 500 people upstairs and 140 downstairs, keeping the cadence of Seedstock’s two-stage event.

“We want to provide an event for the Seedstock community,” Merkley said. “We want to have a dedicated space that can host touring bands and local, regional bands.”

“Everything is music-based and that’s the one thing that everyone there can agree on — we are there for the music,” Cullip said. “The one thing that brings us all there is that everyone appreciates the local talent that we have and we are so lucky to have that.”