After months of deliberation, the Illawarra Folk Club has decided to cancel two of its flagship events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Illawarra Folk Festival, scheduled for January 14-17 at Bulli Showground, has been cancelled.
Organisers are hoping their 36th festival can be held from January 13-16, 2022.
Also, they've decided not to stage a multi-venue Kiama event due to the pandemic.
They had hoped to run a smaller one-day event (dubbed Folk with a View) on Saturday, September 26 to replace Kiama's three-day Folk by the Sea festival.
Organisers say preparation for the Folk Festival would typically be well under way at this time, including site planning, programming, marketing and finalising artist bookings.
Folk Club president Russell Hannah said they had to factor in the actual risk of outlaying hundreds of thousands of dollars and the potential health issues for their volunteers, artists, stallholders, suppliers and patrons.
"It's taken us four, five months basically to come to this decision," he said.
"It costs a lot of money to put on a festival... There are things you have to pay for upfront. It's basically impossible to run that festival in any way, shape or form (next year).
"We've made a decision that hurts us emotionally.
"I've been in it for 35 years, and it really does hit home that we're not going to have one next year.
"And we've had to cancel the one-day Kiama event too, which was just going to be with local performers."
Mr Hannah said they may be able to run some one-off concerts around the time the Bulli festival was meant to take place.
The club hopes the Kiama event can take place in September 2021.
There's some positive news for the Illawarra Folk Club though, who will host a concert on Friday (July 31) at City Diggers, Wollongong.
The sold out show will feature Dave Oliphant and the Masked Marauders, Penny Hartgerink and The Water Runners.
Mr Hannah said the Folk Club typically hosted the concerts fortnightly, but this would be their first since March, and would take place with restrictions.
"You have to pre-book, everyone has to have a designated seat, and there's to be no mingling," he said.
"We have a strict limit on how many people we can have, which at this stage is 70 people, and the room holds about 250-300.
"We will provide masks if people want them. They can go to the bar, but you can't hang around the bar, you've got to get your drink and take it back to your seat."
Mr Hannah said they hoped to host these concerts at the end of each month.
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