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Coronavirus pandemic forces Festival of Friends to cancel 45th music celebration

The 2020 Festival of Friends has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 2020 Festival of Friends has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Festival of Friends / Facebook

The novel coronavirus has forced the cancellation of another iconic celebration in Hamilton, Ont.

Organizers of the Festival of Friends have officially cancelled this year’s event at Gage Park due to the pandemic.

Hamilton’s longest-running music festival was scheduled to mark its 45th anniversary during the Civic Holiday long weekend in August.

“While it’s hard to fathom a summer in Hamilton without the Festival of Friends, our priority has to be the health and safety of our employees, volunteers and attendees,” said Festival of Friends general manager Robert Rakoczy. “We know that this has been a year of firsts for everyone, and we’re all doing our best to look out for each other.”

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Rakoczy says the festival brings in more than $12 million a year in economic spinoff to the city, and it has received commitments from the City of Hamilton and the federal government that funding will continue to cover operating costs.

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“Our heart goes out to the 120 independent local vendors, artisans and musicians that are facing a lost summer of revenue,” he said. “If you are able, please search out these businesses and artists and try to support them whenever possible. They are truly hurting.”

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“We greatly appreciate the support the City of Hamilton and its councillors have given towards continuing our funding despite the cancellation,” said Roman Novak, president of the festival’s board of directors. “This support ensures that the Festival of Friends will remain long after COVID-19.”