BRISTOL, Tenn./Va. - The Birthplace of Country Music, parent organization of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, the annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival and WBCM Radio Bristol, announced a decision to cancel its20th annual festival this year in the wake of COVID-19. The annual event, slated for Sept. 11-13 of this year, has been put on hold until 2021. BCM Executive Director Leah Ross revealed that the organization's Board of Directors voted in a unanimous decision on the measure.
"For the Birthplace of Country Music, this is the saddest day our organization has ever had to face," said Leah Ross, BCM executive director. "The decision to cancel this year's Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival has been extremely difficult for our board, our festival committee, and our staff. Doing so on what would have been our 20th anniversary event is even more devastating."
"We know how deeply our decision will affect our fans, artists, volunteers and community, both emotionally and economically, but we value your lives and the safety of your families above all. You have helped us grow this beautiful community into one of the most extraordinary and unique cities in the country, and for that we are so grateful."
"Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion is also one of the largest fundraisers for the Birthplace of Country Music. Moving forward, we humbly ask for your help, your kindness, and your understanding as our organization rises to face a substantial financial hardship."
BCM is working now to recover financial loss accumulated after the three-month closure of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate located in Historic Downtown Bristol, which reopened in June with stringent social distancing guidelines, including face coverings, and heightened cleaning protocols in place. Upon reopening, the organization announced its annual Bristol Sessions Super Raffle fundraiser for the museum to help mitigate that loss. The Raffle drawing, slated to be held at the museum Sept. 13 from noon to 4 p.m, on what would have been the last day of this year's festival, will still take place. Participants in the raffle do not have to be present to win.
"For those of you that have purchased tickets to Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, we understand that holding on to them may have been a hardship during this time for you as well," said Ross. "For that reason, we are offering three options with the return of your 2020 festival ticket, including the choice for a refund. It is our hope that the majority of you will choose to hold on to your tickets for next year to help ease the financial burden now placed on our Festival. The cancellation of the event has significant repercussions to our organization, and we need your help."
2020 Festival ticket holders have the option to donate all or a portion of their ticket cost back to the festival to help ensure the same quality event next year. Ross explained that every effort is being made to keep the same lineup, if artists' schedules allow. Ticket holders may also choose to defer tickets until September 2021 to avoid any potential increase in price next year or receive a refund.
All donations will go to the 2020 Festival Recovery Fund, with incentives for those who donate their tickets. Anyone who makes a one-time donation of $75 to $249 will become a 2020 Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion Hero. This is how it works:
Donate between $75 and $249 in 2020 Festival Ticket Purchases or make a cash donation of at least $75 to Birthplace of Country Music, Inc. for the Festival and receive:
Donate more than $250 in Ticket Purchases or Cash to BCM for the Festival and receive:
Everything listed above
The deadline for donations is Aug; 14.
A Frequently Asked Questions section has been added to the festival's website at BristolRhythm2020.com to help ticket holders navigate the new donation incentives and refund policies. The 20th annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion has been rescheduled for Sept. 10-12, 2021 in historic downtown Bristol, Tennessee-Virginia.