Major festivals and events being cancelled in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven due to second phase of COVID-19

COVID cancellation: A scene from the inaugural South Coast Food and Wine Festival at Berry in 2019. The second event has been postponed 12 months to October 2021 in Huskisson. Picture: Greg Ellis.
COVID cancellation: A scene from the inaugural South Coast Food and Wine Festival at Berry in 2019. The second event has been postponed 12 months to October 2021 in Huskisson. Picture: Greg Ellis.

Decisions have been made to not proceed with three major events in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven due to the present uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.

The Illawarra Folk Club, who run the Illawarra Folk Festival at Bulli Showground, have canceled the next festival which was to be held from January 14 to 17, 2021.

Illawarra Folk Festival artistic directorDavid De Santi said the folk club is hugely disappointed but the risk of outlaying of hundreds of thousands of dollars and the potential health issues for our volunteers, artists, stallholders, suppliers and patrons meant it was not prudent to proceed.

The 2020 Folk By The Sea Festival at Kiama in September has also been called off.

A scene from the 2019 Illawarra Folk Festival. Picture: Anna Warr

A scene from the 2019 Illawarra Folk Festival. Picture: Anna Warr

Meanwhile the second annual festival to celebrate food, wine and beer on the South Coast is being postponed 12 months due to uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.

The decision about pushing the South Coast Food and Wine Festival back to October 2021 was made by event organisers Sam and Sonia Tooley on Wednesday.

The couple had originally decided to move the date from September to October 2020 and hold it in Huskisson.

The first festival at Berry in 2019 was so successful they wanted to make it an annual event but the COVID-19 lockdown in March prompted a review of the safest way to proceed. They also changed the way the festival would be run by introducing new social distancing measures.

The decision was to hold the festival in three sessions over two days on October 16 and 17 with a number limit for each session at White Sands Park, Huskisson.

Ticket sales were strong but with growing numbers of COVID-19 cases in Victoria and NSW they sought more advice from NSW Health who did not recommend they proceed.

"They told me they would now not approve of an event of the scope and scale of what we do. They said even with all the new social distancing measures in place it would be far too risky. We are offering a free transfer to next year or people can have their money back with a full refund".

Mr Tooley said tickets will automatically be transferred to October 16 and 17, 2021 in the same session that was purchased for 2020. So unless people wanted a refund they don't need to do anything. Full refunds are available logging into www.eventbrite.com.au, putting in details and making the request. The refund option will be available until August 12. After that date all tickets will be transferred to 2021.

Mr Tooley said the festival was something he and his wife had spent considerable time organising and they were emotionally attached to. But a 12 month postponement was the correct decision at this time. He said they hope people will understand the decision that was made because of circumstances beyond their control.

"We are disappointed we won't be able to deliver the Festival as planned this year, but the health and safety of our producers, ticketholders and South Coast communities is of the upmost importance to us," he said.

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This story Major festivals and events cancelled due to second phase of COVID-19 first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.