As of Saturday, organizers have made the decision to postpone Tillsonburg music festival ‘Forge Fest’ until July 24, 2021.
The plan is to keep the exact same lineup – depending on artist availability in 2021 – and make next year’s show “super solid.”
“Unfortunately, I had to cancel,” said Ben Andress of Blacktop Records. “It was inevitable judging by things that have already been canceled in August and September.
“We know it’s hard to plan that far ahead but we hope you’re able to stay on board and be a part of the festival,” Andress wrote on the Forge Fest website. “We know times are weird and if you’re needing a refund and wanting to repurchase next year please send us a message. We are just going to roll with the punches and make the best of this situation.
“We will be reaching out in the following weeks with digital content and exclusive video streams to help raise funds for the Canadian Mental Health Association of Oxford and any updates for 2021. Let’s keep the conversation going and make the best of 2020 and take the time to knock 2021 out of the park! Thank you for your understanding and support of the festival.”
Logistically, it would have been difficult organizing a festival of that size, involving multiple venues in Tillsonburg (including The Copper Mug, Sammy Krenshaw’s, Boston Pizza, Nectar Coffee & Bar, Suitcase Photography) and dozens of music and comedy acts, in a limited time frame – if larger events are allowed to happen in July 2020.
“It feels like a weird time to be asking businesses for sponsorship, too,” he said, noting the festival relies on generous sponsorship to help make a donation of proceeds to the Canadian Mental Health Association of Oxford. Last year, the event drew an audience of more than 250 wrist-band participants, and they made a donation of more than $3,000, at least half of that coming from money raised through sponsors.
Every artist is paid during the festival, said Andress, at least in food and gas money. The headliners make more.
“Some small businesses that may have been happy to kick in $100 to have their logo on posters, they haven’t been open in the last couple of months.”
There was also the issue of international travel, which remains uncertain at this time. Some of the headliners were coming to Tillsonburg from the US.
“It just seemed counter-productive, if you risk losing money at a festival and maybe can’t do it in the future. Right now, it doesn’t seem like live music is going to be a priority for any of Ontario’s first three phases (of reopening).”
So far, the bands have seem receptive to Forge Fest 2021. Understandably, some might not be available, but Andress is confident the majority will be here next summer.
“It like a legit leap year. It’s only May, but a lot of shows have canceled up to September. They’re saying they’re in for 2021… staying very positive about it all. A lot can happen in a year, but…”
The festival had about 105-106 band and agency applications for 2020 and Andress is committed to the same lineup.
“That’s a very long process,” said Andress. “It just makes sense.”
Forge Fest, however, will make an impact in 2020. Andress has plans to compile a CD of Forge Fest content that can be marketed – with limited sponsor advertising – to make a donation to CMHA Oxford. It’s an idea he figures he can do every year at Forge Fest.
“So it’s not ‘all gone’ this year. We’ll still be doing something on the internet.”
There is also a possibility of hosting a ‘Mini Forge Fest,’ depending on social gathering restrictions in July.
“If we can have a coffee house type show with 40 people, maybe we could do a Mini Forge Fest. It’s a cool idea. If there’s time to do it, maybe a little festival, make some smiles happen.