Festival still waiting for more restrictions to ease

By Daniel Hughes

Forecast rules relating to festivals and music events in NSW could pave the way for the Strawberry Fields Festival to go ahead as scheduled this year.

The National Cabinet has flagged that cultural and sporting events at outdoor venues with a maximum capacity of 40,000 will be allowed to run with crowds up to 25 percent of their normal capacity from July 1.

So far, this only applies to ticketed events that require the crowd to be seated.

Tocumwal’s annual Strawberry Fields Festival — normally held in November — has a maximum occupancy of 6000 people, but organisers say the free flowing arts and music event does not satisfy the ‘must be seated’ requirement.

Festival director Tara Benney said at this stage organisers are planning for the event to go ahead, but it would depend on health and government advice.

She said the cancellation of the event would not only affect attendees and performers, but would have a wider impact on the district economy.

‘‘We will of course do everything we can to put on an event this year not just for our fans, but to support Australian artists, event professionals and the local economy of Berrigan Shire,’’ Ms Benney said.

‘‘That can only happen subject to the advice of health professionals and the state of restrictions for businesses in New South Wales, which must be respected.

‘‘We are staying in close contact with both council and state government, and hope to have an update with good news in the coming months.’’

Festivals similar to Strawberry Fields have already been cancelled this year, including Splendour in the Grass, Groovin The Moo and Supergrass.

Plans are in place for the Deni Ute Muster to go ahead, but it too will depend on health and government advice. A final decision is expected to be made in July.