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Blues Fest cancels 2020 event out of COVID-19 caution

By Stephen Betts | Apr 28, 2020
The 2020 edition of the North Atlantic Blues Festival in Rockland has been canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Rockland — The 2020 North Atlantic Blues Festival has been canceled for 2020 out of concern about the COVID-19 threat, founder and organizer Paul Benjamin said Tuesday.

"It was a tough, tough decision but I didn't feel right bringing in thousands of people to the community and then seeing a spike in cases," Benjamin said.

The Blues Fest is the first of three major summer festivals scheduled in Rockland for the summer. The Blues Fest was scheduled to be held July 11 and 12 this year. The event brings in 15,000 to 16,000 people each year, Benjamin said.

This would have been its 27th year in Rockland.

He said the same artists who were booked to play in 2020 have been booked to play in 2021 which is scheduled for July 10 and 11.

Ticket holders will be sent emails given them options including keeping the tickets for 2021.

Benjamin said trying to make the decision has kept him up at night. He said 10,000 brochures had already been printed and 4,000 mailed.

But he said the decision was the correct one in light of the concern that drawing in large crowds from around the country and world could lead to a spike in cases in Rockland.

No decisions have been made yet on the two other major summer festivals scheduled to be held in Rockland. The Lobster Festival is scheduled for July 29 through Aug. 2; and the Maine Boat and Home Show is scheduled for Aug. 7 through Aug. 9.

Gov. Janet Mills said Monday the state will have directives by June 1 for organizations that are planning "crowd gathering events" such as festivals.

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Comments (6)
Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Apr 29, 2020 09:58

I would like to echo Ed Glaser's sentiments.  Paul always keeps his eye on the ball.  Rockland should be Thankful to have a promoter like him & his team.

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Apr 29, 2020 09:19

I have nothing to be blue about.

Posted by: Ed Glaser | Apr 28, 2020 17:20

Paul has always operated the Blues Festival as a good neighbor in Rockland, so this comes as no surprise. His concern for the community is to be commended, and it just cements his reputation as a thoughtful promoter and an all around good guy.

Thanks Paul, see you next year.

Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Apr 28, 2020 16:35

Today the governor seemed to say that all Maine festivals are cancelled due to COVID-19.

Posted by: ANANUR FORMA | Apr 28, 2020 16:16

Big decision and i respect it. I think this is the correct decision to keep us all healthy and safe. Thank you Paul for this unselfish decision you've made. Good karma.

Posted by: John Morin | Apr 28, 2020 15:14

Paul, Thanks for all the past years of entertainment and wishing for many more! Cheers, ~john

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