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Plans for revamped Great Handcar Regatta put on hold

Ty Jones, co-founder of the popular Great Handcar Regatta that ran for four years in Santa Rosa's Railroad Square, has canceled his plans for a revamped but similar event this year.

"We finalized this week that we are not going forward with a handcar race project for the summer of 2012," Jones said by email. "We will revisit the idea in the fall of this year, to determine if we will have a 2013 event."

Tentatively named Dr. Erasmus P. Kitty's Kinetic Frenetic Opera of Mechanical Mayhem, Jones' new event was also to be a handcar rail race, expanded into a larger arts festival, but without the participation of his former partner in the Great Handcar Regatta, Spring Maxfield.

RIP Regatta: A Look Back

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Jones and Maxfield dissolved their partnership, with Maxfield moving on to other projects. Jones' ART101 design company was to produce the new festival, but now its other projects are also in doubt.

"With the demise of the city's redevelopment agency and the loss of that funding, Summer Nights and the Luther Burbank Food Circus have also been placed on hold," Jones said. "Summer Nights may proceed as a project of the Historic Railroad Square Association."

Summer Nights is a monthly series of summertime block parties in Railroad Square featuring food, arts, crafts and live music. The Luther Burbank Food Circus is a proposed gourmet event.

Last September's Great Handcar Regatta was called possibly the last ever, after the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit district told regatta organizers that SMART expected to close the tracks at Railroad Square for new construction.

However, SMART Executive Director Farhad Mansourian said recently his agency had been negotiating with Jones for a site when Jones told SMART that he wouldn't need rail access this year after all.

Founded in 2008, the Handcar Regatta drew crowds of up to 15,000 people each year to Santa Rosa's Railroad Square during its four-year run.

You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at 521-5243 or dan.taylor@pressdemocrat.com.


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