Melissa Partridge from Dunedin won the New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards in 2021. The event was canceled this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. (File photo)
Gore’s Tussock Country Music Festival, which includes the New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards, has been canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the city’s mayor hopes that some smaller events can still take place.
The festival first took place in 2021 and was due to stage over 50 events over 10 days in late May and early June, encompassing events run by the Gore Country Music Club, NZ Songwriters Trust, NZ Gold Guitar Committee, the Gore District Council and other independent artists and community organisations.
In a statement, festival president Jeff Rea said it was an agonizing decision to make and that there had been lengthy discussions with stakeholders over the past week.
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“There is still a great deal of uncertainty around the events and what the growing spread of Omicron in the community will mean in the weeks and months to come. Keeping our festival safe, the people of eastern Southland and our supporting patrons nationwide continue to be at the forefront of our decision-making,” he said.
The New Zealand Gold Guitars has been held in Gore for 46 years and has been won by acclaimed artists such as Patsy Riggir, Kaylee Bell and Noel Parlane.
The awards also did not take place in 2020.
In 2019 the New Zealand Country Music Festival Trust was formed and the awards became the flagship event of the Tussock Country Music Festival when the Gore Country Music Club, NZ Songwriters Trust, NZ Gold Guitar Committee and Gore District Council.
Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks said the festival’s two big events, the MLT New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards and the Top Paddock concert could not have taken place under the current Covid-19 mandates.
“I know the Top Paddock board will work closely together to ensure that certain events can take place, on a much smaller scale,” he said.
The cancellation will be another blow to Gore businesses, many of which are silent due to the Omicron outbreak.
Hicks said the council has spoken to some businesses in the city about the impact of the outbreak.
On Wednesday, the Southern District Health Board confirmed there were 60 active cases of Covid-19 in the Gore district.
“Unfortunately, Covid-19 is finally here, and it’s not going away. A lot of people are reluctant to move, and it’s really hard work there,” Hicks said.
“There is no doubt that this cancellation is another blow, but unfortunately the cancellation is the right thing to do,” he said.