For the first time in nearly 60 years there will not be a Tunarama festival after the decision was made to pull the plug on the 2021 festival on Wednesday.
Port Lincoln Tunarama Inc announced the decision was made to cancel the event as the current COVID-19 outbreak in South Australia has ensured critical planning required at this time of year was unable to proceed.
The decision was made based on concerns for public safety, as well as regulations that would be in place around event capacities which made the event uneconomical.
This will mark the first time since the first Tunarama in 1962 that the festival will not go ahead.
Tunarama president Sharon Humenick said Tunarama president Sharon Humenick said the safety of the community was paramount and despite the thousands of hours that had gone into building the 2021 festival from staff and volunteers alike, the "heartbreaking" decision was made to cancel the 2021 event.
"This outbreak has meant we have fallen at the last hurdle through no fault of anyone," she said.
"We certainly don't want COVID-19 in our region and our thoughts are now with the many tourism and hospitality operators, who have just got back on their feet, that are now facing a second disruption to their businesses."
The Tunarama Committee had planned to go ahead with the 2021 festival in June, which was to take place between January 22 and January 24.
Festival coordinator Jane Intini said all the work on planning the festival had been based around a one person per two square metre rule.
"'Once the one person per four square metre rule was imposed 48 hours ago, we knew the event was on shaky ground," she said.
"We hope things will get back to some kind of 'COVID-normal' by late December, but it would be irresponsible of us to keep our stallholders, advertisers and sponsors waiting to see if they could take part, or not, in an event that takes place just four weeks later."
The committee says naming rights sponsor Port Lincoln Bendigo Community Bank firmly support the decision and has thanked sponsors, supporters, staff, volunteers and donors for their support.
Ms Intini said while it was disappointing that the event would not go ahead, the committee would "crawl through broken glass" to ensure the festival would return in 2022, dependent on the control of the virus.
"We're very determined to start again in January and build towards 2022," she said.