A quick look at what’s to come at Mile of Music in 2017. Photos: USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.

APPLETON – Rumors have circulated for months. And, as the details of the upcoming fifth Mile of Music have rolled out, it’s become apparent that the role of Cory Chisel, who co-founded the annual downtown Appleton music festival in 2013 with marketing executive Dave Willems, has been reduced.

Both Chisel and Willems said it’s not the result of one side pushing back on the other, but more a case of shifting priorities. 

“The easiest way to say it is it was never about me,” said Chisel, the singer-songwriter who in past years has served as a public face for the festival. “I enjoy building things. It will be one of the great prides of my life that our town has the festival it deserves. But I don’t get much out of sitting and basking in the success of something. It’s time to keep building. That’s what I do.”

With the fifth installment of the Mile of Music festival set to launch on Thursday, both Chisel and Willems say there is no acrimony, just diverging paths that will surely continue to cross going forward. The all-original music festival, billed as a celebration of the discovery of new music, has established itself as one of the Fox Valley’s marquee events and has carved out a niche among Midwest music festivals, featuring more than 220 bands and drawing an estimated 60,000 people to downtown Appleton over four days.  

But Chisel’s attention has now turned to the Refuge Foundation for the Arts, a nonprofit launched last year to help give creatives the space and means to work on their art. Based out of the former monastery on Ballard Road in Appleton, The Refuge hosts musicians, painters, filmmakers, dancers and artists and has been supported in various ways by Norah Jones, Rosanne Cash and the Black Keys’ Patrick…