Baton Rouge Blues Fest delays festival until April 2022; postponement impacts musicians

Baton Rouge Blues Fest delays festival until April 2022; postponement impacts musicians
Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 11:10 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 20, 2021 at 4:39 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Baton Rouge Blues Festival, originally scheduled for Sept. 18, will be rescheduled to April 2022 due to the fourth surge of COVID-19 in Louisiana, organizers announced Friday, Aug. 20.

“The Blues Festival ... that’s like the meaty time when all the musicians get together,” said musician Lilli Lewis.

But with a rise in COVID cases, Blues Fest is one of many events not happening this fall.

“It’s a little bit of a heartbreaker but we are more than on board with erring on the side of safety,” added Lewis.

Lewis and her band, The Lilli Lewis Project, were set to make their debut at this year’s festival. She said it’s heartbreaking to have to miss another performance but understands the need with the pandemic.

“It just feels a little tone-deaf to ask people to come out and enjoy the music when they’re putting their health and safety on the line, so we get it,” explained Lewis.

Lewis said musicians will not be the only ones feeling the financial strain from postponed festivals.

“It’s more concerning now than it was two weeks ago,” said Paul Arrigo with Visit Baton Rouge.

People in the hospitality industry could miss out on the visitors coming in for the fest.

“We’re still encouraging people to visit in a safe mode,” added Arrigo.

Until things get safer, musicians like Lewis say they will be hopeful for a comeback tour.

“We all are strong, we have each other’s backs, we bounce back, and sometimes, it takes a different shape and sometimes, it comes back stronger and healthier than it was before,” said Lewis.

“This decision is based on preserving the health and safety of attendees, volunteers, partners and vendors. The Blues Heritage Awards slated for Thursday, September 16th is also being postponed,” The Baton Rouge Blues Festival and Foundation said in a statement Friday. “We look forward to seeing everyone in Downtown Baton Rouge next April and until then we encourage everyone to adhere to protocols and recommendations put forth by public health officials.”

The news came on the same day that Buku fest, scheduled for October in New Orleans, announced it was also canceling due to the fourth COVID-19 surge.

Organizers say fans who have purchased VIP tickets have the option to retain them until April and refunds will be made available for fans who want one.

An exact festival date for April 2022 has not yet been announced.

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