SISTERS, OR -- The Sisters Folk Festival, which was scheduled to begin tomorrow, has been canceled for the first time in the Festival's history.
Folk Festival Board member Jack McGowan says given the atmosphere, there was just no way to overcome the obstacles and keep the Festival on. "We really had to look at the safety concerns that really were ongoing day after day. Everyone in Central Oregon, in fact everyone in the Pacific Northwest, knows that this is unprecedented. We have never had this type of smoke, in such a broad area, in recent history."
In the next few days, the Festival Committee will meet again to determine what they can offer in lieu of the Festival or how to go about refunding ticket sales, but McGowan emphasizes that even though they had to cancel this year, they'll be back next September.
McGowan says, "The proximity of Sisters to the Milli Fire, and to other fires, really forced us to make this really tough decision. We had days of intensive conversation with fire managers, meterologists, even health professionals, and we just realized that we could not do this. We gave this thing our very best shot."
He continues, "This is a real blow to Sisters, there's no question about it. It's an economic blow, it's been a tough, tough year for our town. First with the major snows, and now with the fires that have plagued all of the Northwest, but we really felt that for the good of the community, it was really a decision that we came to, regretting it, but really understanding that it was the right decision to make."
There is a red flag warning in effect for Sisters right now, and due to the smoke, McGowan says the committee realized they couldn't in good conscience expose visitors to the hazardous air of the outdoor venue.