The operators of the Havelock Country Jamboree have officially pulled the plug on the 2022 edition of the four-day country music festival, stunning ticket holders who have been waiting for the festival to resume since it was last held in 2019.
The 2023 event may even be in limbo too, organizers said.
The four-day series has been held annually on the third weekend of August for 30 years at a twin-stage outdoor venue on the northeast side of Havelock.
It has not been held since 2019 after COVID-19 restrictions prevented it from being staged in 2020 and 2021.
“We are very sorry to announce that there will not be a 2022 Havelock Country Jamboree,” the festival announced.
A decision on whether the 31st edition of the festival will be held in 2023 is expected to be revealed in the fall.
“We are uncertain as to what will happen for 2023 at this time and are working to figure everything out,” the festival announced.
No details on ticket refunds have been revealed yet.
“We are working on that as well and will advise as soon as we can,” the festival announced.
Many Jamboree regulars have been holding on to tickets for a 31st edition for several years now.
“We would like to assure you that we are aware of how important the Jamboree is and how we have become a family,” the festival’s announcement added.
Patrick Gerard, who lives outside of Gatineau, has been trying to get the $880 back he spent on tickets in the fall of 2020.
Jamboree organizers pledged to honour tickets bought for the 2020 and 2021 festivals after both were cancelled due to COVID-19.
“I am actually relieved because they could just as easily have put together a super lame event and used the ‘hey we had an event so we don’t have to refund’ excuse. Now we have some hope of maybe getting a refund,” Gerard told The Examiner following the weekend announcement.
“They’ll need to move quickly though because it feels like people are starting to consider the legal route.”
Online, frustrated ticket-holders have expressed interest in potentially launching a class-action lawsuit to recoup their expenses.
Ron Captain, of Angus, Ont., spent nearly $3,000 on several tickets in 2020.
He’s not satisfied with the latest statement from festival organizers.
“I think they’re holding out. They’ve held out on us for more than two years now. I understand COVID came and they had to cancel, but Boots and Hearts is going ahead this year; the other festival in Belleville is going ahead. Just give us back our money,” Captain said.
David Gerow, deputy mayor of Havelock-Belmont-Methuen Township, said the third consecutive cancellation is “very disappointing.”
“The festival means a lot to the municipality. The jamboree is of importance not only to Havelock but to the surrounding township. It was a well-run event and it was significant Canada-wide,” he said.
Gerow said he hopes ticket-holders can begin to reclaim their money.
“Hopefully this will all get straightened out now that they’ve made the announcement. But it’s going to be disappointing for everyone, not only the organizers but for everyone that really, truly enjoys the jamboree and the entertainment that it provides,” he said.
The Havelock Country Jamboree is considered Canada’s largest live outdoor country music and camping festival. More than 20,000 people attend each year from across North America with more than 25 country music acts from Canada and Nashville performing each year on the twin stages over the four days.
Past acts have included Loretta Lynn, Kris Kristofferson, Glen Campbell, Travis Tritt and Alan Jackson.
Following Monday’s announcement, some fans expressed fears that the Jamboree’s run has come to an end. There are now rival summer country music festivals in central Ontario including in Tweed and Hastings along with Boots and Hearts which is returning this year to Burl’s Creek in Oro-Medonte Township, north of Barrie.
But other fans showed support for the tradition and urged organizers to come back with the festival in 2023.
“Sad to hear but let’s hope next year the event can return,” Diana Devitt MacDonald posted on Facebook.
“Very sad news indeed. I miss my Happy Havelock family,” Marie Kernohan posted.
“Hopeful for 2023! Thank you for the many great memories! Much love in this difficult time.”
— with files from Brendan Burke, Examiner Staff
Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner