ELEVEN MILE CORNER — The show won’t go on, at least not for 2021.
Organizers this week announced that the 37th annual Agri-Country Bluegrass Festival has been canceled.
The festival, which each year brings top-named, nationally known bluegrass entertainers to the Pinal Fairgrounds and Event Center for two days of lively, toe-tapping music, would have been held in February. The event would have celebrated its 37th year in 2021.
“We’re very disappointed to have to cancel,” said Misti Todd, fairgrounds director. “It was a tough decision.”
Held each year after New Year’s, the bluegrass festival is one of the most popular events at the fairgrounds. As well as music, the festival features a competitive classic car show, a quilt show, train displays, pig races and commercial and food vendors. In previous years, the event featured three stages, including two outdoors and an inside stage.
This year, organizers had hoped to hold an all-outdoor, COVID-safe event and entertainers were lined up and scheduled to play.
“We had four bands excited to play, including three Arizona bands,” Todd said. “We had hoped we could still have a one-day event.
But Todd said commercial and food vendors are a key feature of the event and they were tougher to schedule. Without as many winter visitors in the area this year, organizers were not sure the event would attract the large crowd numbers it usually does, according to Todd.
“We started sending out requests for vendors and we didn’t get the rush of applications we usually get,” Todd said. “Some of our regular commercial vendors have folded because of COVID. Others are being conservative about what events they attend and it’s probably not worth it for some of them to travel a long way for a one-day festival.”
Some mobile food vendors are also struggling with tougher COVID-safe regulations, she said.
“Although we felt we could do a good job putting on a COVID-safe event, and we had plans in place, we decided not to take on that risk,” Todd said.
The Agri-Country Bluegrass Festival is one of three large events held at the fairgrounds each year.
The annual gourd festival, which brings together gourd artists, vendors and gourd enthusiasts, is held each year in February. The 2021 event has been canceled.
The third major event at the fairgrounds is the Pinal County Fair, held each year in March. Todd said a decision has not yet been made to cancel the fair.
“It’s still on the schedule,” she said. “We are hoping to be creative and provide a safe fair.”
Other event statuses
The Agri-Country Bluegrass Festival is the latest annual event to be canceled for the 2021 season. The status of other planned events is listed below.
The Casa Grande Main Street Street Fair is a two-day event held in downtown Casa Grande and featuring musical entertainment, artists and vendors. Organizers announced in October that the event would be postponed. Tentative plans were made to hold the event in March to coincide with the annual Art Explosion and fine arts show.
Gold Canyon Arts Festival, held each year and featuring a juried art show, live music, food and entertainment, is listed as “postponed” on the Gold Canyon Arts Council website.
2021 Arizona Renaissance Festival, a nine-week event held in Gold Canyon, has been canceled.
The Casa Grande Fiddle Contest set for Feb. 13 has not yet been canceled but organizers are still evaluating the situation. The event features competitive fiddlers in several divisions.
The 18th annual Running of the Gourds festival, normally held in February at the Pinal Fairgrounds and Event Center, has been canceled.
Fine Art Explosion and art show, held each year in Peart Park and attracting artists from across the region, has not yet been canceled.