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Coronavirus Kent: Faversham Hop Festival cancelled for 2020 because of pandemic

Organisers of one of the largest free street festivals in the south east have announced "with great sadness" their decision to postpone this year's event.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the annual Faversham Hop Festival will now not take place.

Dead Horse Morris entertaining at last year's event. Picture: Chris Davey
Dead Horse Morris entertaining at last year's event. Picture: Chris Davey

The event, which attracts thousands of people each year with wall-to-wall bands, hops and beer, should have been held in the town on Saturday and Sunday, September 5 and 6.

Organisers said, for many reasons, they felt postponing the festival until next year was "the right thing to do".

A statement, released today, from the directors of Faversham Hop Festival said: "For infectious diseases, such as the flu and the common cold, public gatherings like Faversham Hop Festival are seen as super spreader events by the authorities.

"However, unlike the flu and the common cold, there is no vaccine for Covid-19 and the possibility of one being available by the time our event normally runs is not guaranteed.

"Whilst many people will be inconvenienced by the virus, for some Covid-19 is life threatening.

The audience for Loose Change performing on stage outside the brewery at Faversham Hop Festival last year. Picture: Chris Davey
The audience for Loose Change performing on stage outside the brewery at Faversham Hop Festival last year. Picture: Chris Davey

"We could wait to see how things play out but, financially, a late cancellation is more than an inconvenience to the stallholders and local business owners relying on the income the festival brings to them.

"Additionally, lack of surety over the footfall we could attract, even if everything miraculously clears up in time, means we won’t have the investment to continue with planning.

"The festival company itself, as a non-profit, has no reserves and there is no likelihood of financial support from local businesses, or local government, who will be suffering in this environment."

It went on to say, with the latest government instructions, it had now "become impossible" to continue planning for this year's festival "without breaking these rules or putting members of the team at risk".

"Therefore, we have decided to err on the side of caution and postpone our festival until next year – for many reasons, we feel it’s simply the right thing to do", the statement continued.

Preston Street during the hop festival in 2019. Picture: Chris Davey
Preston Street during the hop festival in 2019. Picture: Chris Davey

"We very much hope to return in 2021 to bring this wonderful event back to the town and resume the tradition that these extraordinary events have interrupted.

"For now, stay safe, stay home and healthy and the happy times we have here in Faversham will return."

The market town has been celebrating the humble hop since 1990, recalling the traditional festivities associated with the hop harvest and the town's unrivalled hop heritage.

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