With great disappointment and sadness, the volunteer committee that organises the renowned annual Exeter Craft Festival has announced that the Festival will not take place this year.
The current Chairman, Madeleine Millington said: "We were very hopeful earlier in the year, with the roll-out of the vaccination programme, that we would be able to stage the Festival in July, but after careful consideration, we feel that there is still insufficient guidance as to the safety of doing so. Our event, which was planned for 1–3 July, would have been a matter of days after the government hopes to lift most or all of Covid-19 restrictions, and if this proves to be over-optimistic, it would cost us a great deal to cancel at such a late stage. As a non-profit organisation, that would severely affect our ability to stage future festivals.
"One of the reasons for our thinking is the appearance of new variants of the coronavirus and the uncertainty as to whether currently available vaccines will be fully effective against them, and our other main concern is that we would have the responsibility of securing the venue against excessive numbers of visitors.
"Since admission to the Festival is free, we have no way of knowing how many people will be visiting, and in any case we would not be able to restrict people from entering the site because the land is owned by Exeter Cathedral, which wants, understandably, people to be able to access the Cathedral.
"We feel we have a duty to ensure the safety of our stallholders and members of the numerous support services we commission, such as security guards, first aid personnel and the various entertainers, as well as the general public, and cannot see a feasible way of doing so.
"We are deeply saddened to have had to come to this decision, especially on behalf of the wonderful craftspeople who have already suffered a very difficult year, but all who were accepted to exhibit this year will be guaranteed a place for 2022 if they wish to exhibit then. Further information about the 2022 Festival, including how to apply, will be published on our website (www.exetercraftfestival.co.uk) later this year.
"We look forward to seeing everyone and welcoming the public again next year."