Winfield, Kansas—Officials at Walnut Valley Association (WVA) have announced that the 49th Walnut Valley Festival will be postponed until September 2021. WVA has been closely monitoring CDC and WHO recommendations related to mass gatherings, and took this decision after communicating with local public health and city officials. For those who have purchased tickets for the 49th Walnut Valley Festival, these tickets will be valid for entry in 2021 and patrons can expect a direct mailing with details. Contractors, vendors and workers will be contacted as soon as possible.
Plans call for a series of virtual concerts and events to take place in September 2020, with donations going to support performers and others suffering from the effects of the pandemic. WVA will continue to take NewSong Showcase entries, and plans to incorporate this into an online showcase in September 2020. Further details will be announced when available.
WVA Executive Director Bart Redford: “On behalf of WVA, I want to thank those of you who have sent letters and e-mails, called our office, or posted online in support of the festival and shared how much we mean to you. I can assure you, the feeling is mutual. It is in fact that concern for our patrons that is driving this decision. Some may deem the risk of having this event acceptable; however, long ago my high school debate coach taught me that, when the outcome of doing something is particularly dire, even if it is only a potential risk, it outweighs more certain but less lethal outcomes incurred in not taking that action. In considering the wisdom of bringing so many people together from all over the world to a small Kansas community, mixing them well, and then returning them home, we find it difficult to imagine how we might do that in a responsible way that sees everyone safely returning to their homes with the prospect of attending the NEXT Walnut Valley Festival.”
“I know that most of our patrons have a passion for attending WVF, and people have been clamoring for clarification on whether Winfield will happen this year. I want to thank you all for letting us know your thoughts over the last few months. If you have taken part in online debates on social media, we have taken note of your comments. If you wrote an e-mail to us on this topic, we have read it. We have also reached out to some patrons by phone, and we thank those of you who took a few minutes to talk with us about your feelings on this matter.”
“We have also had conversations with local public health officials, city administrators, local and regional leaders, and peers in the festival and outdoor event industry. We have reached out to artists, because they have been most affected by this pandemic, and have arguably the least amount of access to government aid. But I am hopeful that the plans we are making for providing a virtual festival, which we have tentatively dubbed WVF 48.5, will provide some much-needed relief to our performers and others.”
WVA Owner Kendra Redford: “On behalf of WVA and the Redford family, I want to express how sorry we all are to have to postpone our annual gathering on the banks of the Walnut River–the first time this has happened in the Festival’s 48-year history. We do so with heavy hearts, but we are convinced that it is the responsible thing to do. For many people, our event is something like a family reunion, and you don’t risk spreading contagion at a gathering of your clan.”