Paul Pigat always hit a high note with audiences at the island Rockabilly Jamboree in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)

COVID-19 results in cancellation of entire summer music festival program in Island community

All events featuring many Island musicians affected through the end of August in Chemainus

The Chemainus Valley Cultural Arts Society’s entire summer program has been wiped out by COVID-19.

With major events and festivals in larger centres such as the Pacific National Exhibition and the Honda Celebration of Light fireworks competition in Vancouver already being cancelled this summer, the CVCAS schedule didn’t really stand a chance of going ahead with uncertain conditions for crowd gathering – even smaller groups of a few hundred – caused by the pandemic persisting.

“We hoped not to have to make this decision, but there is no other responsible option in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said CVCAS Chair Bev Knight. “We’re sad the community won’t be able to enjoy the events and entertainments that the society brings to the Chemainus Valley every year. It’s so disappointing.”

Knight added she’s concerned for musicians who derive their incomes from performing at events like those organized by the CVCAS.

“We are working on plans for just about what everybody else is doing – going virtual – but that won’t replace the enjoyment people derive from live acts, or the earnings of performers.”

The CVCAS summer concert and festival series that now won’t be happening includes the popular Music in the Park performances at the Waterwheel Park bandshell that were due to begin July 7 and take place each Tuesday until late August.

Also chopped are the Chemainus Bluegrass Extravaganza and Chemainus Valley Blues Festival in July plus a string of four successive Saturday concerts in August – the Chemainus Accordion Festival, Chemainus Country Music Jamboree, Old Time Rock & Roll and Chemainus Talent Saturday.

A National Aboriginal Day celebration that would have preceded the festival schedule in June is also cancelled.

Related: Cultural Arts Society looking to create virtual venues during pandemic

The CVCAS intends to step back amid the hardship of the COVID-19 pandemic, but plans to continue bringing the community together through the arts in the future.

The CVCAS board held its first meeting online Wednesday via Zoom and will continue through those virtual meetings in the summer while preparing for a relaunch of its programs and activities when the pandemic risk has subsided.

Related: Chemainus Valley Cultural Arts Society continues its quest for a permanent facility

The public can keep posted of any developments at CVCAS.com, on the Chemainus Valley Cultural Arts Society Facebook page, and by subscribing to the CVCAS newsletter.

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Heart & Soul with Jim & Lynda perform at the popular Accordion Festival in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Memorable nights like this at the Waterwheel Park bandshell will have to wait. (Photo by Art Carlyle)

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