Initial hopes for a ‘small Buttermilk’ in June were torpedoed by rising Michigan cases of the coronavirus, leaving organizers to look ahead to the fall for a mini-event or to 2022 for the next jamboree.
For the second year in a row, Circle Pines Center south of Grand Rapids has canceled Buttermilk Jamboree due to the COVID pandemic.
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Organizers of the June music festival – which combines national touring acts with a robust lineup of Michigan artists and family programming – had high hopes for a 2021 return of the beloved three-day event until conditions deteriorated.
“We met in March and things seemed so good, so we were going to have a small Buttermilk, but things have really taken a shockingly bad turn for the worse,” said Sasha Ospina, center director, referring to Michigan’s upswing in COVID cases.
“I can’t imagine that large events, even if outdoors, will be allowed by June.”
Capacity restrictions and other COVID concerns have forced several major Michigan music festivals to skip their events for the second year in a row, including Blissfest, Mo Pop, Camp Greensky and Nor-East’r Music & Art Festival. (Get more updates and see a full list of Michigan music festivals in the Local Spins guide.)
While a handful of others still plan to move forward, many haven’t yet made final decisions on the status of their 2021 festivals.
In early 2020, Buttermilk had announced headliners Funkadesi, Way Down Wanderers and Erin Zindle & The Ragbirds for the 10th annual festival before the pandemic shut almost everything down. At that time, the hope was to bring the same slate of artists back for 2021 and Ospina said that’s also true for the June 17-19 lineup for 2022 “with some modifications.”
CONCERNS ABOUT RISING COVID CASES
If it’s possible, an alternative “Jamboree Lite” event this fall would likely span two days and feature local artists. “If we’re able to do it, we’ll try to put on the most exciting festival we can,” she said. “But who knows what fall will be like.”
For now, Ospina said, the center will concentrate on other activities for the summer.
“We are turning our energy to making sure we can run our summer camp and hope to have a small ‘Jamboree Lite’ in the fall,” she said. “If not, 2022 it is. Things have to be better by then, right?”
The family-friendly festival has a devoted fan base. In Local Spins’ most recent readers’ poll in 2020, Buttermilk Jamboree was ranked the No. 2 Michigan music festival, behind only Wheatland.
In its official announcement today, Circle Pines Center noted Michigan is “at the literal top of the infection rates chart,” making it difficult to stage a festival in June.
“We don’t want to contribute to uncontrolled spread of a disease that disproportionately affects older adults and minorities. We are a justice seeking organization and we can’t see an equitable and safe way to hold our music festival this year,” the statement continued.
“On the practical side, we are required to get governmental authorization to hold our event each year. Right about now is the time we would need to apply for permits, and we can’t imagine trying to make a realistic plan for how we would keep everyone safe and healthy right now given the current reality.”
All tickets purchased for the 2020 Buttermilk Jamboree will automatically now be rolled over to 2022. Those seeking refunds can email email@example.com.
Check out a full list of Michigan music festivals in Local Spins’ Michigan Music Festivals 2021 Guide.
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