By Lyra Bordelon
To Lewisburg’s great sadness, the 2021 West Virginia Winter Music Festival has been cancelled.
“We just don’t feel comfortable in moving forward with it this year,” said Jim Snyder, director of the West Virginia Winter Music Festival. “There’s too much risk of people possibly contracting or spreading the virus.”
Founded in 2013, the Winter Music Festival raises money to provide assistance to music industry professionals in the West Virginia area when times of need or emergencies come to a head. The first event was held in order to benefit a musician who lost everything in a house fire – after the largely successful fundraiser was held, the Winter Music Festival was born.
In early 2020, the festival brought 50 bands to locations across Lewisburg over the course of two days, with memorable performances filling the downtown air. Despite the disappointment coming with the cancellation of the 2021 festival, the organizers felt it was the responsible thing to do giving the massively spiking Greenbrier County COVID-19 caseload.
“We would feel very badly if someone were to get sick and possibly spread the virus to attendees or family members that might not be able to fend off the virus,” Snyder explained. “Too little is known about long term effects. There are also liability issues.”
Snyder noted many of the musicians who would have performed “understand and know that, at this time, [cancelling is] the responsible thing to do. They also understand it was not an easy decision but the best for the community.”
This year had been particularly hard on many musicians, with performance restrictions put in place by Governor Jim Justice in order to combat COVID-19. Although the state currently allows outside performances, this was not the case for many months and with the number of cases rising locally, many businesses are restricting patrons once again.
“I would just encourage everyone, once things open back up, to go out and support live music like never before,” Snyder said. “We have had a taste of what it’s like, both fans and players, to be without that outlet for live entertainment and creative expression.”