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Sound of Silence: Blue Ox Pulls Plug on 2020 Festival

dates set for 2021 gathering

V1 Staff, photos by Mike O'Brien

Del McCoury performs at the 2019 Blue Ox Festival.
The Del McCoury Band performs at the 2019 Blue Ox Festival.

After doing their best to weather the pandemic by first holding a virtual event and then rescheduling their in-person festival to late August, organizers of the Blue Ox Music Festival have finally decided to cancel their gathering for 2020.

Blue Ox was the last of the Chippewa Valley’s major summer music festivals to be canceled as a result of the coronavirus, which also caused the curtain to fall this year for Rock Fest, Country Fest, Country Jam USA, Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival, OneFest, and others.

In an email Friday, organizers said they were pulling the plug on this year’s version of the bluegrass and roots music festival, which was slated to be held Aug. 27-29 at Whispering Pines Campground just outside Eau Claire.

“It is with saddened hearts that we must announce our rescheduled August dates will be not be feasible,” organizers wrote. “A gathering of even our festival’s size would not be safe nor allowed under Eau Claire City-County Health guidelines by the end of August.”

“It is with saddened hearts that we must announce our rescheduled August dates will be not be feasible,” organizers wrote. “A gathering of even our festival’s size would not be safe nor allowed under Eau Claire City-County Health guidelines by the end of August.”

Ticket-buyers have already received emails offering refund instructions, the message added. “If no action is taken, then your tickets, campsites and/or car passes will automatically be good for our 2021 festival dates, currently planned for June 10-12, 2021.”

This year’s festival had originally been slated for June, but was postponed earlier in the spring because of COVID-19. Organizers held a free, two-day virtual concert featuring acts such as Pert Near Sandstone, Charlie Parr, and Them Coulee Boys on June 12-13. In their cancelation email, organizers said they were “looking into several possibilities to provide our local music community entertainment options,” such as “limited capacity campouts, virtual events, or a hybrid of the two.”

“We will greatly miss seeing our Blue Ox Family this year,” the wrote. “This festival means as much to us as it does to all of you. The friendships and camaraderie surrounding this community over the last five years has been truly amazing. There will be brighter days, when we will all be able to come together and party in the Pines. Until then focus on your local community, treat each other kindly, and take care of yourselves. We look forward to seeing you all again!”

For more details on the cancelation and how you can help Blue Ox with a contribution during these challenging times, visit their website.