Organizers cancel RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa due to pandemic

Organizers cancel RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa due to pandemic

Organizers cancel RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa due to pandemic

Organizers of the RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa spent the last few weeks considering a variety of options for the mid-July festival, including shortening the event and potentially rescheduling it for later this year.

In the end, the decision was made to cancel it altogether and focus on a return in 2021.

“Late last week we realized that the alternatives were not realistic and we really just had to sort of bite the bullet here and plan on moving to next year,” said executive director Mark Monahan.

The popular festival, which usually attracts about 300,000 people each year, joined the long list of summer events that have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This sort of cancellation is very disappointing to everyone,” Monahan said Tuesday from Ottawa. “Not just the staff, but volunteers and obviously the people that support it and ultimately the fans.”

Monahan, who has been at the Bluesfest helm since 1994, noted the event has weathered many challenges in the past — including a tornado in 2005, a stage collapse in 2011, and a family of stubborn killdeers in 2018 — but COVID-19 is one they could not overcome.

“This was something that we felt sort of helpless to control or to mitigate,” he said. “There really was nothing we could do.”

One of the city’s largest cultural events, the 27th edition of the festival was set for July 9-19 at LeBreton Flats Park. This year’s lineup included Rage Against the Machine and Alanis Morissette.

Monahan said the event generates about $30 million in economic benefits to the city.

“Like many of you, I’m sad that @ottawabluesfest won’t take place this year — but it was the right decision from Mark and the team,” Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said in a Twitter post. “I know thousands of loyal fans will continue to support our cherished Bluesfest as they work to come back stronger than ever in 2021. I’ll be there.”

The announcement came a day after the Stratford Festival put its 2020 season on hold. Other recent high-profile event cancellations include the Calgary Stampede, the Toronto Caribbean Carnival and folk festivals in Edmonton and Winnipeg.

All ticket purchasers will be entitled to a full refund.

Monahan said several artists have already been booked for the 2021 festival, including Billy Talent, Blink-182, Blue Rodeo, July Talk and The National among others.

The cancellation “will cause financial hardship for our organization,” Monahan said without elaborating, but the festival is “committed to keeping our staff employed.”

He said there are 15-20 full-time employees on staff and about 3,000 community volunteers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 28, 2020.

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

Music

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the province still hopes to bring the hospitalization number down before relaxing restrictions. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
14 new deaths, 366 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta

Province nearing 100K COVID-19 vaccine doses administered

The first pages of the book, by Kristy Walker.
Sylvan Lake author pens first children’s book about COVID-19

“The Coronavirus Isn’t Scary” by Kristy Walker teaches children to take care of themselves

Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, MLA Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, Devin Dreeshen. (Photo Submitted)
Ag Minister announces 20% off crop insurance for Alberta farmers

Dreeshen says this will support job creators and boosting rural economy during a difficult time

An x-ray tech demonstrates the new equipment in use. (Photo Submitted)
New diagnostic equipment now operational at Sylvan Lake AACS

In August it was announced that Stephen and Jacqueline Wuori donated $850,000 to AACS

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

(Photo submitted)
Central Alberta researchers recognized for studies in agricultural sciences

Jessica Sperber of Ponoka and David MacTaggart of Lacombe awarded prestigious scholarship

FILE – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers his opening remarks at a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine CEO ‘very, very clear’ that Canada’s contracts will be honoured: Trudeau

Trudeau says he spoke to Moderna CEO on the morning of Jan. 26

A ground worker wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 unloads lobsters from a WestJet Airlines flight at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., on Thursday, January 21, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Trudeau teases stricter travel measures; Canadians flying to U.S. now need COVID test

Prime minister says measures need to not hurt imports and essential trade

(Photo submitted)
Ponoka RCMP receives new police puppy trainee

Detachment says goodbye to ‘Maja’ and welcomes ‘Neutron’

Art Kempf, originally from the Stettler area but now living in Lacombe, is pictured here with his late wife Lillian. Art’s 100th birthday is coming up on Feb. 22nd.
photo submitted
Former Stettler area resident Art Kempf will be celebrating a very special day next month

Kempf, now a Lacombe resident, marks his 100th birthday on Feb. 22nd

Whistle Stop Cafe owner Christopher Scott and his sister Melodie are serving sit-down customers in their Mirror diner to protest health restrictions that they say are unfair to restaurants and other small businesses. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)
Central Alberta restaurant owner defies health restrictions by serving diners

Whistle Stop Cafe owner says pandemic restrictions unfair to restaurants and small businesses

The Northwest Territories flag flies on a flagpole in Ottawa on July 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Alberta man charged with threatening Northwest Territories public health officer

Police did reveal the nature of the threats, but said it was concerning

A healthy volunteer receives an injection in this undated handout image provided by Providence Therapeutics. Human clinical trials have begun in Toronto for a proposed COVID-19 vaccine by a Canadian company. Providence Therapeutics of Calgary says 60 subjects will be monitored for 13 months, with the first results expected next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Providence Therapeutics
*MANDATORY CREDIT*
Calgary company begins human clinical trials for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate

If successful, the vaccine could be released by the end of the year

Most Read