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Louisville's July Fourth Festival Returning After Year-Long Hiatus

Following a one-year hiatus, a free Fourth of July festival is heading back to Waterfront Park this year.

The Louisville Orchestra will headline this year's event, along with cellist Ben Sollee and the hip-hop group 1200, according to a news release from the Waterfront Development Corp.

Last year's Fourth of July celebration at Waterfront Park was canceled after state lawmakers cut about $420,000 from the state budget that had previously gone to Waterfront Park, said David Karem, president of the Waterfront Development Corp.

Karem said a surge of local sponsors, coupled with support from the city, will allow this year's event to take place.

The one-day event will cost about $180,000, he said.

"With the exception of the money from the city, the rest of it has all been from various sponsors," he said.

Louisville Metro will contribute $50,000 for the event, according to a report from The Courier-Journal.

Karem said he expects the Fourth of July celebration to have an economic impact in the "millions of dollars."

And he said that economic impact, in addition to the mounting revenue from other large events at the park, such as Forecastle Festival, makes a case that the park should get more funding from the state.

"Because you want to keep the park maintained in the proper style, you want it to get the reputation that it's one of the cleanest parks in the country, that's the goal we have," he said.

The announcement of the return of a free Fourth of July celebration comes just a day after Abbey Road on the River's organizer said the festival would leave Louisville after 2016. The festival organizer cited a dispute with the Galt House as the reason.

Abbey Road on the River is an annual Memorial Day music festival held at the Belvedere adjacent to Waterfront Park.

Karem said despite the Waterfront Development Corp.'s role as "broker" of the Belvedere for events such as Abbey Road on the River, solving the dispute seems to be out of his hands.

"When Abbey Road puts their event together they do it under the rules and restriction that we've developed, but as far as whatever is going on in any kind of conflict, it's not between us and Abbey Road," he said.

Karem said he hopes the conflict can be resolved "because it is a good event."

But he said "there is always going to be new opportunities."

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said he hopes all parties involved in the Abbey Road on the River dispute can resolve their differences.

"We want to do everything we can to make sure its successful."

Jacob Ryan joined LPM in 2014. Ryan is originally from Eddyville, Kentucky. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.