Carrboro City Cancels 2021 Carrboro Music Festival As COVID-19 Cases Rise

The city of Carrboro has canceled the 2021 Carrboro Music Festival, citing a growing number of COVID-19 cases, according to an announcement Monday.

The annual festival was scheduled for September 25-26 at more than 20 venues in downtown Carrboro.

“While we are all disappointed, the reactions I have seen from members of the community, including artists, have been understanding and supportive of the decision,” said Damon Seils, board member. “We are very excited about the big anniversary festival next year. “

Last year, the Carrboro Music Festival was held virtually. This year’s festival was supposed to take place in person, but a growing number of cases of delta variants have led to discussions among city leaders about how to adapt.

The decision to cancel the festival was made with input from the Carrboro Music Festival Planning Committee, City Council and staff.

“We just had to err on the side of caution with this one because it’s such a big event,” Pro Tem Mayor Barbara Foushee said. “It attracts so many people – not just people from Carrboro and Chapel Hill – but people from everywhere. “

If the festival hadn’t been canceled this year, it would still have been different from previous years, Foushee said. She added that there were complications in finding locations.

“Some of the sites that were said to have been used had already withdrawn,” she said. “In the end, it seemed like it was an out of control situation where the spread of the virus could very easily have taken place.”

The Carrboro Music Festival has always been one of the city’s biggest and most popular events. Recreation administrator Charles Harrington said the event featured up to 200 acts at 25 to 30 venues in downtown Carrboro.

“In a typical year it is wonderful to walk around the city center, see over 15 performance stages and hear such a wide variety of local music,” said Mayor Lydia Lavelle . “You can see friends. You can see people that you haven’t seen for a long time.

While this year’s event wouldn’t have been as big as those in previous years, many artists had already prepared and trained for the event.

“We were planning almost 150 acts this year,” said Harrington, “Our goal this year was to try to deliver something as close to the traditional event as possible.”

The cancellation of this year’s festival reflects the impact COVID-19 has had on local artists. The Bait Shop Boys, for example, have no longer performed in front of a live audience since the 2019 Carrboro Music Festival.

“The pandemic has hurt the performing arts community,” said group member Patrick McDonough. “But we love to play, so we’re going to find a way to do it.”

Although McDonough hasn’t performed live with the Bait Shop Boys for almost two years, he has found other ways to practice his music. He accompanied the Chapel Hill / Carrboro Sing-Along in performances that follow the rules of mask wearing and social distancing in outdoor venues.

The 2022 Carrboro Music Festival will mark the 25th anniversary of the event, which is slated to take place next October. Lavelle said the community was already excited to start planning for the milestone celebration.

“We have some really great volunteers in the community who work there every year,” Lavelle said. “I know they’re already starting to think, ‘Okay, what can we do next year to bring the music festival back even better than ever? “”


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