19 November 2020

COVID-19 claims Tumbafest and rodeo, but GATHER Festivals still on

| Edwina Mason
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Crowd gathered for floating duck racing on river at Tumbafest.

Tumbarumba’s annual festival of food, wine and frolic – Tumbafest – has been cancelled for 2021. Photo: Supplied.

Tumbarumba may have rallied from the ashes of horrific summer bushfires in early 2020 to still put on a good party in February, but COVID-19 has delivered the coup de grace for the town next year.

This week it was announced that Tumbafest – the town’s veritable feast of food, wine, art and frolic – has been cancelled for 2021, which has dealt another blow to a community still recovering after bushfires destroyed forest, farmland and houses, and toppled the local timber and tourism industries.

Tumbafest president Andrew Rae said after careful consideration of numerous factors, including the current COVID-19 pandemic and festival and event restrictions, the 25th annual celebration will be postponed until 2022.

Cowboy wrestling bull at Tumbarumba Rodeo.

The annual Tumbarumba Rodeo – normally held on New Year’s Day – has also been cancelled for 2021. Phot0: Tumbarumba Rodeo Facebook page.

He said the cancellation of the festival is extremely disappointing and a major setback for the region’s economy, however it is the right thing to do to keep the community safe.

“The decision to cancel the 2021 Bendigo Bank Tumbafest was not taken lightly,” said Mr Rae. “The festival committee has spent the past six months monitoring health advice and changing government restrictions to ensure the health and safety of our community and festival fans.”

He added the decision was in consideration of fans, performers, suppliers, volunteers, businesses, market stall holders and the festival committee to minimise the impact on them and allow them to plan for the 25th anniversary of Tumbafest in 2022.

“It’s been such a tough time for Tumbarumba and regional NSW, which has battled drought, bushfires, COVID-19 and the recent flood event,” said Mr Rae. “However, we’ll be back to celebrate 25 years in February 2022.”

The Tumbafest announcement follows the earlier news that the popular annual Tumbarumba Rodeo on New Year’s Day is also be cancelled, again due to COVID-19 restrictions.

GATHER Festivals

But it’s not all bad news in the Snowy Valleys with a series of GATHER Festivals still going ahead this month.

Snowy Valleys Council, with support from the Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network and the National Bushfire Recovery Agency, is hosting four free events in Batlow, Adelong, Tumut and Tumbarumba during November and December to bring bushfire impacted communities back together.

The mini-festival events are designed for communities to ‘GATHER’ and have fun in a social setting.

Batlow Showgrounds was the scene of the first festival on Sunday, 15 November, with a strong showing from locals and visitors to the town.

Upcoming, free, family-friendly GATHER Festival events will be held at:

  • Adelong: Friday, 20 November – 5 pm to 9 pm at Memorial Park.
  • Tumut: Friday, 27 November – 5 pm to 9 pm at Bila Park.
  • Tumbarumba: Friday, 4 December – 5 pm to 9 pm at Creekscape.

Popular local artists – including Velvetsmyle, Molly Waters, Amiee Zabbia and Rory Phillips – will provide live entertainment, and creative workshops will showcase diverse art of the region, including a belly dancing group and inspiring artists from the Tumut Art Society.

READ ALSO New 50-day festival for fire-affected communities

For the hungry hordes, food trucks will offer tasty treats to purchase, including American barbecue, woodfired pizza, potato slinkies and soft-serve ice-cream.

Alternatively, people can pack a picnic basket, but BYO picnic rug and chairs.

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