The Sisters Folk Festival is offering refunds to ticket holders. This year’s concerts were canceled amid heavy wildfire smoke.
The festival was scheduled the second week in September, with headliners like Justin Townes Earle, Robbie Fulks, and the Hot Club of Cowtown. But the Milli Fire and other blazes close to Sisters created unsafe air quality across the region. The festival canceled.
After evaluating outstanding obligations, the board decided Monday to offer a 35 percent refund to any ticket holders who opt-in before Oct. 15. After that time, the ticket price will be considered a donation to the festival.
The tickets are, technically, non-refundable, but Ann Richardson, Managing Director of the Festival, says the board wanted to honor audience commitment.
Richardson thanked those who had already opted for the donation.
“People have been very generous for the most part. We understand some people need their money back. But a large number of people have been generous in donating back their tickets because they understand we have expenses and we benefit the community by letting arts and music education thrive in our school system.”
The festival is still negotiating contracts with some artists and vendors. Richardson says some of them have been willing to donate part of their fees. The board has decided to draw on reserves to help cushion the financial blow.
Richardson says the festival’s year-round events will go forward, although she says next year’s ticket price may need to carry more weight in covering event costs.
While even cancellation insurance is available for events of this size, Richardson says the organization deemed it was not a good bet. To collect on a claim for such a policy, the festival might have had to show a more pressing danger, such as a mandatory evacuation of the town of Sisters. A claim for a cancellation taken on as a health precaution would be much less likely to pay out.