LITTLE CURRENT – Both Manitoulin Country Fest 2020 and Rockin’ the Rock have been postponed until 2021, essentially closing out the major large-scale events taking place on the Island this year.
Organizer KT Timmermans said that while she understands the disappointment that might be felt by fans and artists, postponing the events “was the right thing to do.”
Ms. Timmermans explained the delay in announcement of the postponement of the events was due to contractual obligations. “I had to wait for legal consideration issues,” she said. Although it was clear fairly early on that there would be no large scale events given the go-ahead by the province or medical authorities this summer, the language of contracts demanded a clear statement that the events would not be permitted.
“‘Unlikely’ just isn’t good enough,” she said. It was surprisingly challenging to get that definitive statement from an authority, but Ms. Timmermans found an ally in Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Mike Mantha. “I approached Mike with our dilemma and he got right on it,” said Ms. Timmermans. “He got Public Health (Sudbury and Districts) to send me a clear statement.” Even so, Ms. Timmermans had to provide assurances that PHSD has jurisdiction over this region.
Manitoulin Country Fest and Rockin’ the Rock have not been cancelled, stressed Ms. Timmermans. “They are just postponed to August 2021.”
This isn’t simply a matter of semantics either. “We have managed to secure the same lineup, the same group of artists for 2021,” she said. “We have been working on this for something like 45-50 days now, but we can now say that everyone is onboard. All the artists have rebooked, it’s just a do-over, a mulligan.”
Ms. Timmermans said that she has been overwhelmed by the support they have been receiving from the community during this trying time. “Most people have been very supportive and that has really helped us to get through the last few weeks.”
“If you have a ticket, if you have put down a deposit, if you have a payment plan or if you have booked your campsite for this year, there is nothing you have to do,” she said. “Everything will be honoured when the events take place in 2021—just go ahead and show up.”
Ms. Timmermans admitted that the postponement took a large weight off of both her and her husband Craig. “To be honest I didn’t like the idea of bringing a large group of people to the Island in the midst of what is going on,” she said. “We didn’t want to be part of any second wave.”
There was also the impact the pandemic has had on the local business community. “We depend a lot on our generous sponsors to help make these events happen,” she said. “I just couldn’t bring myself to approach businesses that are going through their worst season. This is a time when we need to be supporting them.”
This would have been the 15th edition of the popular country music festival which regularly draws thousands of people to the Island and the fourth year for Rockin’ the Rock.