Council staff have recommended all council-managed events for the festival, set to kick off January 2021, be suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic, effectively cancelling the event.
Tamworth Country Music Festival manager Barry Harley made the announcement on Tuesday, which was supported by stakeholders including police, as well as Wests CEO Rod Laing, and The Pub Group’s Craig Power. Harley said the decision to cancel the event was not taken lightly.
“I bring myself back to reality by saying, ‘they cancelled the Olympics’,” he said. “And if they can cancel the Olympics, we can suspend the council for one year and come back stronger.
The festival is worth an estimated $50 million to the local economy and attracts around 40,000 visitors annually.
It’s not just the country town’s yearly music festival that has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, all council-run operations – including the Peel Street entertainment, the busking competition and free concerts in the park – have all been affected by COVID-19 health controls that effectively prohibit gatherings of more than 20 people.
Harley said the closure of Peel and Fitzroy streets and Kable Avenue came about as it would be illegal under the current public health orders, despite the event being over than four months away.
“This will, of course, include all of those atmospheric elements that we see in the festival because simply, following the public health orders and not enough of the restrictions going forward, that we are completely unable, and in fact illegal to actually, one run a music festival, and two, any mass gatherings over 20,” he said.
“All of the elements that the council is actually involved in require amassing crowds over 20.”
It comes following a myriad of festival cancellations across Australia, with the popular Falls Festival – which takes place across the New Years period – cancelled, along with Queensland’s Big Pineapple Music Festival, which has now been rescheduled to 2021.