BREAKING: Major announcement on fate of Muster 2020
THE Gympie Muster has been cancelled for 2020 amid the spreading community chaos of COVID-19.
Muster chairman Greg Cavanagh said the decision was difficult but ultimately unavoidable.
"We'd already signed 100 artists and obviously we're going to do our best to transfer them to next year," he said.
The Muster joins other major events including the Brisbane Exhibition, the Gympie Show and, according to the latest information, the Mary Valley Show at Imbil.
Mary Valley Show Society president Bill Greer said the show was in the same predicament as the Muster, which Mr Cavanagh said was sadly out of the question this year.
"On the operational side, we had to start engaging with contractors on the supply of food, alcohol and equipment," Mr Cavanagh said.
"We can't afford to pay for all this now, for an event which may not be able to go ahead.
"Mass gatherings would be among the last to have restrictions lifted, I would imagine," he said.
Mr Cavanagh said the decision was also important for patrons.
"A lot of our patrons are in the older demographic and potentially vulnerable.
"Realistically our task of controlling hygiene at this year's Muster is something we could not manage.
"We're also in a national park and we don't know the parks authorities might decide about using the site.
"It would not be feasible to carry on," Mr Cavanagh said.
But all may not be lost as the Muster organisation looks to online alternatives to events like its talent search, "to give our emerging artists a platform."
"And we're in talks with the Gympie Regional Council as we look to deliver some of the Muster experience, when we can.
"It's disappointing for our community groups, which use the Muster as a major fundraiser for the year.
"Luckily we're only a small team and because we've had some successful Musters in the past, we can withstand this financially and we will be back next year, definitely," he said.
"We disappointed, more so for the local community and our emerging artists, but we'll be back, COVID-19 permitting."
Mr Cavanagh said the Muster organisation could not gamble on any useful easing of lockdown requirements.
"While restrictions on movement and gatherings may ease by August, it has become clear that moving forward with the Muster this year is just not tenable or responsible.
"The decision was made with a heavy heart, but following consultation with government and health officials, we know it is the right one and in the best interests of our artists, patrons, staff, contractors, volunteers and the community at large."