Taking his place among the 'stars'

There's something about music festivals that make George Wein smile.

It's a total immersion, like jumping into a swimming pool; totally covered by the music. You're not just going to a concert for two hours, you're there all day and just enjoying the entire atmosphere, said Wein.

Wein is considered by many to be the "father" of modern music festivals, coordinating hundreds of festivals of various genres around the country and most familiarly, bringing the Saratoga Jazz Festival to SPAC.

"I'd started a great urban festival in New York City in about every location in the city. I loved that festival but after four or five years, I missed the country feeling of Newport," said Wein. "I was riding by Saratoga one day and said 'This place is fantastic, it could be another Newport.'"

That was back in 1978 and the rest, as they say, is history. The jazz festival was an instant hit and soared to new heights once it become the Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival.

"It was a great success," said Wein.

Wein will be honored by SPAC at this year's festival on Saturday, June 25, with the dedication of a bronze star in SPAC's Walk of Fame.

"In 1978, George Wein took a chance by making Saratoga the second location for his 'Newport Jazz Festival"New York.' It proved to be a brilliant move," said SPAC President and Executive Director Marcia J. White. "That year kicked off a tradition that has only grown richer with time."

Wein is far from arrogant, but he said he wasn't the least bit surprised at the festival's success.

"I wasn't surprised at all. There's a large population area up there and a focus on what happens in Saratoga. I knew if you put in a great jazz program between Vermont and Rochester and Albany and Utica, there'd be a lot of jazz fans," said Wein.

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