Organizers of the three-day Summerset concert held last August in Fort Langley have run out of options.
Despite some creative efforts to re-invent the music and arts festival as a drive-in benefit concert, they threw in the proverbial towel today (Tuesday, June 23).
“The team at Summerset and Red Door Events has worked tirelessly to bring Summerset Music & Arts Festival to our community this summer,” organizers announced on Facebook.
”Unfortunately, like other major festivals, Summerset 2020 was interrupted due to COVID-19 and the resulting pandemic.”
After pivoting and coming up with the drive-in concept for a benefit event in 2020, that idea blew apart in May, when the provincial health office announced new restrictions limiting gatherings of events to to 50 vehicles and they endeavoured to find more alternatives while hoping beyond hope the restrictions would be lifted or changed before their Aug. 28-30 dates.
More recently, they said, Dr. Bonnie Henry express the intention to extend those restrictions for the “coming months.”
“We are left without options,” organizers from the host company, Red Door Events, say.
“Therefore, we sadly must announce the cancellation of the Summerset benefit concert, and the postponement of Summerset Music & Arts Festival to Aug. 27 to 29, 2021. We tried to make this work however, health, safety and regulatory compliance is and must remain our top priority,” the team stated online.
“We feel for all of those who have been impacted but especially those in the live music and events industry.”
In the meantime, Red Door is exploring ways to operate a concert series that complies with the 50-person gathering restrictions “to keep live music alive in B.C. this year,” they added, when making their cancellation announcement Tuesday afternoon.
“We look forward to celebrating music and community together.”
The cancellation news was met with upset from several of their supporters, including Chantelle Bowles.
“Sorry to hear, but looking forward to next year,” Bowles said.
“I was so hoping you would get approval for this event,” said Brend Cowie. “I look forward to seeing what creative concert ideas you come up with.”
And from fellow music supporter and festival organizer Karen Zukas, of the Fort Langley Jazz & Arts Festival, she expressed sympathy.
“We’re so sorry to hear this news, as we know firsthand how much effort, energy, and passion that goes into planning a festival and then pivoting to respond to changing circumstances,” said Zukas, who along with event co-founder Dave Quinn, has reinvented their traditional July festival into a virtual event in early September.
“It’s a difficult time for the music industry, musicians, festivals, venues, and all of the people who work in the industry. But we are resilient sector and you will undoubtedly come back even stronger with your 2021 festival,” Zukas added, sending her best to all of the Summerset team.
Red Door had announced in mid-May that a drive-in style concert benefiting musicians that had lost gigs would go through, though increasing stipulations removed aspects such as a section of vendors, food trucks, and a beer garden.
Last year was the first year for the Summerset Festival. It was held over three days in the orchard outside the palisades of the Fort Langley National Historic Site. Organizers estimated the event drew an estimated 10,000 people to the village to see the likes of Paul Brandt, Kim Mitchell, and April Wine perform.
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