ComFest (officially The Community Festival) is a large, free, non-corporate, music and arts annual festival currently held each June at Goodale Park in the Victorian Village area of Columbus, Ohio. The festival bills itself as "The Party with a Purpose". To accomplish this goal, the festival relies on community members to work together in the planning and operation of the festival serving on committees and work teams including clean-up and recycling, safety and first aid, entertainment, street fair, and the "World Peace Rocks Forever Committee".
The festival was first held in 1972 as a showcase for a collection of community organizations including the Columbus Free Press, Free Health Clinic, Food Co-op, Tenants Union, Crisis Hotline, and Recycling Center. The festival continues to provide a forum for alternative lifestyles and collective activity. Beer from The Columbus Brewing Company is sold in large, colorful mugs to fund the cost of the festival itself and to raise money for community projects and grants. All tips from the beer booths go to homeless shelters.
The purpose of the festival can be summed up in the governing "statement of principles":
- We think that people ought to work for the collective good of all people rather than for personal gain. We support cooperation and collective activity rather than competition and individual profit.
- The basic necessities of life are a right and not a privilege. People have the collective right to control the conditions of their lives.
- People should strive to conduct their lives in harmony with the environment.
- We recognize that there are primary attitudes which divide and oppress people. These attitudes are usually shown by prejudice against people on the basis of age, class, ability, income, race, sex and sexual preference/orientation. We seek to eliminate these attitudes.
The 37th annual ComFest was held June 27-29, 2008. ComFest's "cause" for 2008 was The Ohio Healthy Families Act, which supports a grassroots campaign to put an initiative on the ballot for the fall general election, which would require employers to provide mandatory sick days for their employees. The featured local artists for 2008 were Happy Chichester and Shaun Booker. Guest national artists are Michelle Shocked and Black 47.
Other famous names that have played Comfest were Jello Biafra.