Bluesfest organisers are calling this long weekend’s cancelled event, “the festival that could have happened”.
It follows four days of no locally-acquired COVID-19 cases over the Easter long weekend, where restrictions were introduced for the Northern NSW region.
Bluesfest faced its second cancellation in two years on Wednesday.
It came as a result of a public health order, issued by NSW’s Minister for Health. The event was cancelled less than 24 hours before it was meant to begin, due to the Queensland COVID-19 cluster, which saw one case emerge in Byron Bay.
The news devastated the festival’s organisers and the music industry.
Yesterday, on what would have Day 3 of the event, Bluesfest wrote, “It is Day 3 of the festival that could have happened. It is also Day 3 of no new COVID-19 cases in NSW.”
“The load-out continues while we cannot help but wonder what could have been the reality of tonight’s events if the festival had gone ahead and if we could have welcomed all of you – our valued patrons – through our gates.”
Bluesfest organisers shared another post today, again pointing out there were no new locally-acquired cases in the state.
Organisers apologised to the artists and punters involved for not being able to go through with the festival again.
They specifically pointed to Sally King, who was coming back to the stage after semi-retiring.
“We’re so sorry that for the second year in a row, you have not been able to achieve this. Don’t give up,” they wrote.
“To you and so many other musicians with their own stories, we are so aware of the human cost and damage to our industry that this cancellation caused.”
While many are suggesting the NSW Government may have overreacted by having the event cancelled, Byron Shire Mayor, Simon Richardson said he’d rather be safe than sorry.
“It was a King Solomon’s choice … most people would rather we over-reacted than under-reacted,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“The last thing we wanted was a coastal Ruby Princess on our hands.”
Also chatting to the Sydney Morning Herald, Bluesfest owner, Peter Noble explained that he was insured — and covered — for last year’s losses. However, this year, with insurers changing their policies to exclude COVID-19 losses, he is not.
“I don’t want to criticise [NSW health minister] Brad Hazzard,” Noble told the publication.
“I’m sure he’s always going to act for what he believes is protecting the public… but it would have been nice to have found that we had other options.”
The second post from the festival ends on a positive note though.
Bluesfest writes that the government’s response has so far been positive.
“We are hopeful to announce a rescue package soon to everyone involved in the festival.”