Two more outback festivals bite the 2020 dust

Cunnamulla Fella, Blackall festivals cancelled

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Blackall's main street transformed into a billy cart racing straight is a sight that won't be seen this year.

Blackall's main street transformed into a billy cart racing straight is a sight that won't be seen this year.

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People-friendly is what the Cunnamulla Fella and Better in Blackall Festivals are all about, which can't happen under social distancing regulations, and so they have been cancelled.

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"Could you get a handshake from Stewie at Ram Park? Could you pack onto the viewing platform at the saleyards to watch the agents sell? Could you embrace the nearest stranger after winning the Blue Light Billy Carts? Could you try your luck on a packed dance floor in the middle of Shamrock Street?"

The answer to these questions - no - is the reason why the Better in Blackall Festival has announced it has cancelled plans for its annual festival, set to be held from August 13-16.

Joining it in making a similar announcement was the Cunnamulla Fella Festival, set to have been held in the last weekend in August.

Each had been holding out for a lessening of social distancing regulations and travel restrictions with a dramatic flattening of the coronavirus infection curve but as Paroo Shire mayor Suzette Beresford said, there was too much continued uncertainty to continue to plan for it to happen.

One of the show-stopping events at the Cunnamulla Fella Festival last year.

One of the show-stopping events at the Cunnamulla Fella Festival last year.

"We came to the conclusion that unfortunately cancelling this year's festival had to be done," she said.

"Not only did we have logistics and planning to consider, but the health of our residents had to be taken into account as well.

"There are still no cases of COVID-19 in south west Queensland, and although we encourage the slow increase of visitors, as per the guidelines, that is happening currently, August seemed too soon for an event that brings a large amount of people together in one place."

Tourism manager Barbara Mason agreed that although disappointing, it was the right decision given the circumstances.

"Ticket sales hadn't opened yet for 2020 but the tourism team is now working on contacting the entertainers and contractors that had already been booked and reworking everything for 2021," Barb said.

There was a similar message from Better in Blackall Festival president Gill Russell, saying it was only 431 days until the 2021 event.

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