CUMBERLAND — DelFest has been canceled, organizers announced Thursday. Previously scheduled for Sept. 23-26 at the Allegany County Fairgrounds, the impact of the coronavirus made the decision “inevitable.”
News of the cancellation was disclosed in a letter from Rob and Ronnie McCoury — sons of festival namesake Del McCoury — published on Delfest.com, the festival’s official website.
“With a heavy heart, we must accept the fact that COVID has won another round,” wrote Rob and Ronnie. “For a number of reasons, we have no choice but to postpone DelFest 2021 to Memorial Day weekend, May 26-29, 2022.”
DelFest organizers were unable to staff the event due to the rise in COVID infections in Allegany County and the surrounding region and the impact the virus has had on travel.
“Several things beyond our control happened at the same time over the last few days making this decision inevitable,” the letter said.
The popular bluegrass and Americana festival is normally held on Memorial Day weekend each year. Due to COVID concerns, it was canceled in 2020 and pushed back in 2021 to September.
The letter said that “while the State of Maryland is doing pretty well against COVID, the more rural Western Maryland with lower vaccination rates, is currently at the height of the Delta (variant) surge. ... The surge, among other factors, has created a labor shortage felt throughout the country.”
Organizers said the event services company used by DelFest for nine years could not field enough staff to work the event. The ability to find enough security personnel was another hard-hit area.
The letter said festival organizers reached out to other events companies, job centers and law enforcement agencies and could not get enough personnel to work the event. Due to COVID infections, shuttle services were unable to operate and vendors were lost.
Allegany County officials commented on the decision at Thursday’s meeting of the Allegany County Board of Commissioners.
“I support whatever decision they make,” said Commissioner Creade Brodie Jr. “Ultimately they feel a responsibility to the community and they’ve made a decision they feel they will stick with. Stan’s (Stan Strickland, Del McCoury’s manager) big concern was the public at large and he wanted to do what’s best for everyone.”
“The challenges were mounting against them,” said Jason Bennett, county administrator, “with the virus picking up and trying to find workers to help with the event. Everything they looked (at for a solution) they ran into a challenge.”
A refund process can be found on Delfest.com. Those not seeking a refund will have their tickets honored for the 2022 festival.