Yachats Celtic Music Festival canceled due to COVID surge

The Delta variant and ensuing restrictions effectively stopped ticket sales, then the headliner pulled out.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: “Yachats Celtic Music Festival canceled due to COVID surge,” Cheryl Romano’s story about recent event cancellations caused by the pandemic, was published originally on Aug. 25, 2021, by YachatsNews.com, an ArtsWatch Community Partner. ArtsWatch is republishing the piece with permission.

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Altan, a traditional Irish group, was to headline this year’s Yachats Celtic Music Festival, but had to pull out because of travel restrictions.

The COVID-19 Delta variant that is surging through Oregon and Lincoln County has started knocking off entertainment and other events scheduled the next few months.

The latest was Tuesday, when the popular Yachats Celtic Music Festival announced it was canceling its three-day event in November for the second year in a row.

“I am bitterly disappointed to have to announce that Yachats, and all of us, will have to go another year without the Celtic Festival,” music director Stephen Farish of Waldport said Tuesday.

A linchpin of Yachats’ fall cultural/tourism season, the festival was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic last year. After months of being on hold this year, festival organizers had high hopes that the 2021 event could go on as scheduled Nov. 12-14.

Tickets to the three days of live music, dancing, food, crafts, and workshops went on sale in July as declining cases of coronavirus eased restrictions on group events.

“Ticket sales were brisk and the response enthusiastic,” Farish told YachatsNews.

However, when Gov. Kate Brown initiated another round of pandemic restrictions a few weeks ago as the Delta variant surged, Farish said, “Immediately, ticket sales simply stopped.”

Another factor — which Farish called “the final straw” — occurred last week when Altan, the Irish headliner band, backed out of its U.S. tour due to pandemic-related travel restrictions.

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Even if the festival were to move ahead, the withdrawal of Altan meant “we would be forced to cancel all previous ticket sales, refund the money [and] start the entire process over again after securing another [headliner] band,” Farish said in a message to the other scheduled musicians. “That would take a couple of weeks at least and we would be restarting from zero. Time and circumstance simply isn’t working with us at this point.”

Full refunds of tickets purchased so far were promised by the board of directors of Polly Plumb Productions, the local nonprofit that sponsors the festival and other cultural events. The ticket sales site, Brown Paper Tickets, has notified people who purchased tickets via email that a refund is in the works.

To obtain refunds, the board directed purchasers to the Brown Paper Tickets website. “Please note their refund processing is significantly delayed, so your patience is appreciated,” the board said.

“We plan on continuing the festival in 2022 with Altan as headliner,” the board announced in emails that went out to ticket purchasers.

Other recent cancellations because of COVID-19 concerns include:

  • The Florence Events Center canceled its 25th anniversary celebration scheduled for Wednesday.
  • Lincoln County postponed its “One Year Later, Reflections on Echo Mountain” this Saturday at the Lincoln City Cultural Center.
  • The 2021 Yachats Mushroom Festival in October has been canceled, including the popular Ecology for Everyone program, speakers forum, workshops, guided mushroom walks, and mushroom displays. Yachats restaurants still plan mushroom-themed meals and there will be mushroom vendors at the Yachats Farmers Market.
  • The Yachats Lions Club will not hold its annual all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast on Sept. 5 as scheduled. The club has been forced to cancel all of its holiday breakfasts since the pandemic began.
  • Yachats Presbyterian Church once again canceled its Octoberfest celebration that it started in 2019, but canceled last September. “As much as each of us was looking forward to it, we have decided to cancel it and other high-volume events for the immediate future,” Pastor Bob Barrett said in an email to church members.
  • The Waldport Chamber of Commerce has postponed its Cruzin’ for Crab Festival scheduled for Sept. 25. It was also planning to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the replacement of the Alsea Bay bridge.

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