Jacob’s Ladder music festival closes down

Annual Anglo gathering for over 4 decades sunk by rising costs, growing bureaucracy.

Celebrants at the Jacob's Ladder music festival.  (photo credit: Courtesy)
Celebrants at the Jacob's Ladder music festival.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
 The annual Jacob’s Ladder Music Festival, a landmark on the Anglo musical community for more than four decades, has reached its last rung.
Founders Menachem and Yehudit Vinegrad told The Jerusalem Post that due to rising costs and bureaucracy, it was no longer a viable venture to continue producing the popular two-day festival held annually in May  or June at Kibbutz Ginossaur on the Kinneret that has annually featured dozens of musical acts.
The couple also cited to the Post “all the risks involved  - security, competing events, issues with police and service Providers to name a few.”
The Vinegrads moved in 1967 from Leeds in England to Kibbutz Machanayim in the Upper Galilee. They started the festival  in 1978 in the tradition of the British folk festivals they had grown up with, and it quickly became a magnet for Anglo expats, hippie travelers and music fans enamored with the laid-back atmosphere, the communal tent city that sprung up with campers sharing food, wine and song, the array of talent – both homegrown and international.
More than 2,000 annual attendees would perennially enjoy a weekend of music, sun, family-friendly post-hippie activities from juggling and face painting to meditation, holistic treatments and massages. Over the years, the English that was predominant among the attendees received Hebrew competition, as children who had grown up going with their parents continued as adults and as earthy Israelis began hearing about the down home atmosphere created by the festival.
“We thank you all for being part of our life’s work and passion and for continuing to participate even though we have had to keep on raising the ticket prices,” wrote the Vinegrads on the festival’s Facebook page Tuesday.
They added that their smaller annual winter festival, taking place on December 6-7, would go on as planned at Kibbutz Ginossaur, adding that if it was financially viable, the winter festival would continue next year at Kfar Blum.
The reaction from the festival’s community was swift and emotional.
“This is heartbreaking  I’ve been going to the festival since the age of 4, and the last couple of years with my kids,” wrote Julie Nevo on the festival’s Facebook page. “I was looking forward to them having all the wonderful memories and experiences I’ve had at the festival.”
Blues harpist Dov Hammer, who has appeared at the festival many times, wrote to the Vinegrads:  “ I have nothing but love and appreciation for all you have done all these years.”
Those sentiments will undoubtedly be echoed by anyone who attended the Jacob’s Ladder festival over the years.