It is almost unbearable to imagine another festival season without live Irish and Celtic music. However, based on the current guidance for live events provided by state officials, the continued uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, and the present level of active COVID-19 cases in Michigan, the Michigan Irish Music Festival board of directors has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2021 festival.
In a press release dated Friday, April 16, the Festival’s Board of Directors noted: “We are unable to proceed with producing a festival in the format that we have established and on the level of quality our patrons, volunteers, musicians, vendors, and sponsors have come to expect. Our board continues to monitor Michigan restrictions, health guidelines, and capacity limits to determine what type of events will be permissible in the future and we will plan accordingly going forward.”
A variety of details were considered by the board, including the unknown timeline for allowing large gatherings and the comfort level of patrons who wish to attend. While local businesses and some events are expected to begin reopening before the year’s end, it is unclear whether mass gatherings like the Michigan Irish Music Festival will be permitted to operate at full capacity, without restrictions, before September. First and foremost, the safety of volunteers, patrons, musicians, and vendors was the most important factor in the decision.
The information surrounding COVID-19 changes on a daily basis. The successful execution of the festival involves significant upfront planning and logistics with attendees, vendors, and entertainers from across Michigan, the country, and around the world. The board noted it was important this decision be made now due to the countless details and months of planning required to produce the Michigan Irish Music Festival. With a large contingency of our entertainment coming from Ireland, Scotland, and Nova Scotia, the additional unknown specifics of travel regulations also contribute to the timing of this decision.
For those who have purchased tickets in advance, festival organizers will be in contact with you via email within the next 14 days. Organizers will also be communicating with sponsors, volunteers, musicians, and vendors to provide them with details regarding this decision.
“Everyone is facing challenging times right now,” noted the press release. “In order to ensure the long-term success of our event and organization, this difficult decision was the best plan to allow us to move forward. Until we can meet again, please follow us on Facebook and our website, www.michiganirish.org, for updates and details.”