14 January 2021

COVID outbreaks force cancellation of mini-Summernats in March

| Ian Bushnell
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Summernats 33

Summernats 33 last year. The March mini-event has been deemed too risky. Photo: Peter Norton.

The Sydney COVID-19 outbreaks and subsequent border uncertainties have forced Summernats organisers to cancel its mini-event planned for March, but they have recommitted to staging the full festival in January 2022.

Already dealing with the cancellation of Summernats this month at Exhibition Park due to the pandemic, organisers had planned a smaller event, called Rev Rock ‘n’ Roll, to maintain the brand and connection with the national capital.

But co-owner of Summernats, Andy Lopez, said that as soon as the outbreaks emerged in December, he knew the event was doomed.

Not only would it not be viable in such a small marketplace as Canberra without many interstate, mainly Sydney, visitors, but even if they could come to the ACT, the event would have increased the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in the ACT, he said.

”We were really optimistic about it,” Mr Lopez said.

“We had good entry numbers, but with uncertainty around borders, particularly with the ACT for the first time blocking borders with NSW, it reinforced the uncertainty of trying to stage a major event part in a smaller marketplace like in Canberra,” he said.

”As well, we like to think of ourselves as good corporate citizens and community citizens, and no matter what people may think, we take that responsibility seriously.”

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He said at least 60 per cent of ticketing would have gone to residents in Greater Sydney, and the perception of thousands of people coming to Canberra so soon after border closures would not have been good.

Organisers said they made the decision themselves and didn’t wait for the government to tell them what to do.

“We thought this was the sensible thing to do,” Mr Lopez said.

He added that fans were understandably frustrated with no cases in the ACT, but the event had wider responsibilities.

“I think everyone in hospitality events, accommodation and travel, all those businesses, small and big, we’ve all got our eyes on hopefully good news with the vaccine roll-out and governments and health [departments] being able to help us get back to normal and find a solution and stop leaks coming out of quarantine,” he said.

But Mr Lopez promised that Summernats would return in 2022 bigger and better with more than 1700 entrants and thousands of fans already locked in for 2022, and the team can’t wait to get to the national capital.

”We were happy to do a really lovely event in Sydney last weekend, but there’s no doubt we all wanted to be in Canberra, and we will be there in 2022,” he said.

”It’s our spiritual home; it’s where we belong.”

The 150 registered entrants for Rev Rock ‘n’ Roll will have their entry rolled forward to the rescheduled Summernats 34, on 6 to 9 January 2022.

Organisers said any Rev entrant who had already entered Summernats 34 would receive a full refund of their Rev entry.

Entries and tickets to Summernats 34 will be on sale next week.

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