The Sisters Folk Festival (SFF) cannot go forward in 2020, due to the constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, SFF staff and board remain determined to safely and responsibly provide live music experiences for Sisters locals through the summer and fall, and the festival will return in September 2021.

The staff and board of directors of Sisters Folk Festival announced Wednesday that they have made the difficult decision to postpone the 24th annual Sisters Folk Festival — originally scheduled to take place September 11-13 — to September 10-12, 2021.

On May 7, Governor Kate Brown’s office announced that concerts, major sporting events and large gatherings would not be allowed to occur without significant modifications, at least through the end of September. Since then, SFF staff has explored what those modifications might look like for the Sisters Folk Festival, including requiring face coverings, lowering overall venue capacities to allow for social distancing, eliminating indoor venues and increased sanitation measures.

Even with those modifications in place, there is no guarantee that statewide restrictions won’t be re-imposed if there is a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in Oregon over the next weeks and months.

“Lots of our people travel here from outside of the area, including the performing artists. They need to know, with certainty, what is happening with the festival this fall,” said SFF executive director Crista Munro. “Unfortunately, certainty is something that no one can provide right now. We know that this news is very disappointing, and we had hoped to not have to deliver it, but the well-being of our entire community is our primary concern. It’s clear that no matter how much we want to have a festival this September, the scientific and medical community doesn’t yet understand enough about how this disease is spread for us to safely bring a lot of people together with confidence.

“We don’t even know for sure what phase of opening our state will be in four months from now; it all depends on how these first few weeks of re-opening go. I think people will understand that we held off on making this call for as long as we could, hoping for a breakthrough that would allow us to proceed with the festival.”

Creative Director Brad Tisdel added, “Each year we carefully curate a festival lineup that includes musical and cultural diversity. With 40-plus musical acts coming from all over the country and world, it’s clear we can’t make the 2020 festival happen as planned. I’m currently working with agents and artists to bring this lineup to next year’s festival, with all the collaboration and musical alchemy coming together to create an extraordinary experience. We look forward to celebrating it with you in 2021 and thank you for your support and belief in Sisters Folk Festival.”

Munro told The Nugget that the Festival is working on plans to provide live music on a small scale in a way that conforms to guidelines for the prevention of the spread of COVID-19. Last month, the Festival sent out the Sisters Folk Festival Bandwagon, featuring local musicians touring local neighborhoods while playing music on a flatbed trailer towed by a truck. Plans will be announced as they are firmed up.

Sisters Folk Festival is still planning to have some type of event over the September 11-13 weekend, most likely a livestreamed program with a small live audience if state guidelines allow it.

Tickets to this year’s festival will be automatically rolled over to the 2021 event, unless the purchaser elects to get a festival loyalty package; to donate their ticket purchase price to Sisters Folk Festival, a nonprofit organization; or requests a refund by June 30. For more information visit www.sistersfolkfestival.org.