SA Wooden Boat Festival cancelled for 2021 due to COVID-19

Sunk by COVID: The award winning biennial SA Wooden Boat Festival has been called off for 2021, due to event restrictions associated with COVID-19. Photo: File/Jesse Ehlers.

Sunk by COVID: The award winning biennial SA Wooden Boat Festival has been called off for 2021, due to event restrictions associated with COVID-19. Photo: File/Jesse Ehlers.

The 2021 South Australian Wooden Boat Festival has been officially cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The SA Wooden Boat Festival Committee (SAWBFC) had recommended the Alexandrina Council cancel the event, "given the ongoing impact COVID-19 continues to have on large scale public events given stringent social distancing guidelines that must be adhered to".

Alexandrina's elected members backed the committee's recommendation, and voted in favour of the 2021 event being called off at their October meeting, held on Monday night.

The nationally-renowned festival which is hosted in Goolwa every two years, is a huge tourist draw-card for the region, being one of the largest events on the Fleurieu. In 2019, it drew more than 14,000 attendees.

In a report presented to the council, SAWBFC suggested the 2021 event could not be held in its current format and that "additional requirements necessary to ensure a 'COVID Safe' event necessitate considerable extra costs resulting in a negative impact on the event budget, of which is further compounded by the inability to attract any sponsorship at this time."

The Committee was also concerned that running the festival "without the ability to explore and interact" would negatively impact its brand.

A 2020-21 Budget allocation of $60,000 was committed to the event by the Alexandrina Council in July, with options on how this money will be used now to be considered.

Elected members supported a motion that council administration consult with the SAWBFC and create a detailed proposal and report of options in regard to the expenditure of these funds.

Potential uses include online marketing, promotion, and the development of an "Alexandrina Wooden Boat Industry Strategy".

The event is set to return in 2023, potentially coinciding with the official launch of the $7.5 million Goolwa Wharf Precinct redevelopment.

This story Boat festival scuttled first appeared on The Times.