The 2020 Deni Ute Muster has been officially cancelled.
Deni Play on the Plains Festival Inc was yesterday forced to pull the pin on the famed event — for the first time in its 22 year history — due to escalating concerns and restrictions relating to the coronavirus pandemic.
Its board and staff said it was the sensible choice given risk to health, border closures and the increased reliance on health services, police and other emergency services to get a handle on what is being described as a second wave of positive COVID-19 cases.
‘‘Despite our very best efforts to continue with planning for our 22nd event, we are saddened to announce the cancellation of the 2020 Deni Ute Muster,’’ general manager Vicky Lowry said.
‘‘After consultation with government and health officials, and due to the current outbreaks and changes rapidly occurring, it has become impossible to foresee what will be happening in the coming months.
‘‘There were no guarantees that we would be able to put the health and safety of all involved as our main priority.
‘‘2020 Deni Ute Muster tickets and Reserved Camping tickets will be automatically valid for the 2021 Muster to be held October 1 and 2, 2021. If you are retaining your ticket for 2021 there is no further action for you to take.
‘‘If you are unable to attend the rescheduled date in 2021, you may request a refund from Oztix. Refunds requests are available from now until 30 September, 2020.
‘‘We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their patience and support. We will continue to respond to questions on our social media accounts as we begin to move forward and plan for 2021, where we look forward to seeing you when we will be back bigger and stronger.’’
Muster chairman Russell Tait said it became evident with changes in COVID-19 response this week that holding the event would be ‘‘impossible’’.
‘‘First and foremost is the health and safety of our own community, and secondly we had to consider that police and health resources are very stretched at the moment,’’ he said.
‘‘With all those things in mind we knew we were not in a position to put on the event.
‘‘It is sad that we have been unable to proceed with the event this year, because up until this week we were still fairly confident we could hold an event perhaps just in a reduced capacity.’’
Mr Tait said the cancellation of the event will also be a financial blow, but said the Muster is slightly insulated after some successful events in the past few years.
‘‘This will of course come at a huge cost for us. This cancellation basically takes us back to ground zero.’’
Mrs Lowry said Muster fans will still have something to look forward to this year, with the Deni Ute Muster museum and Muster HQ development still on track to be completed in September.
It is being built at the Deni Ute Muster site, to make a one stop tourism and educational attraction.
‘‘We’ll have an opening of some sort, depending on what restrictions allow,’’ Mrs Lowry said.
‘‘So far this year we have been splitting our time between organising the 2020 event and getting the site and new offices ready, and now we can put so much more effort in to the new space.
‘‘The staff roles will change a little bit from now, and we’ll be out at the site planting trees, getting the buildings ready and going through the memorabilia.
‘‘We’re all excited to be part of that, and take a bit of ownership of the process, and we can’t wait to share it with everyone.’’
To register for a 2020 ticket refund, go to https://forms.oztix.com.au/RefundRequest/.