Add another cancellation to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 17th annual ROMP bluegrass festival at Yellow Creek Park, which was expected to bring more than 25,000 people to town in June, has been postponed indefinitely.
But Chris Joslin, executive director of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum, which produces the festival, said he’s hoping ROMP can be rescheduled for later in the year.
He said ROMP accounts for about 15% of the Hall of Fame’s operating budget.
It also pumps somewhere between $1.6 million and $2.2 million into the local economy each year, he said.
That includes about $150,000 of goods and services that the Hall of Fame buys from local vendors.
“ROMP is an economic engine for the area,” he said.
It isn’t the only festival impacted by the pandemic.
Joslin said he’s talked to agents from Nashville to New York City to the West Coast.
“They said about half the festivals are rescheduling and about half are canceling until 2021,” he said. “They say the work for artists has just evaporated.”
Joslin said, “Given the current uncertainty, the decision to pause and assess was made in consideration of the health and safety of attendees, artists, vendors, production crew, volunteers, staff and everyone involved.”
The festival was scheduled for June 24-27.
Joslin said, “There are so many moving parts to an outdoor event the size of ROMP that attracts people from over 40 states and nearly a dozen countries. It’s clear that June is not an option as federal and state directives make it difficult to plan for the near term.”
He said, “However, we are working through several options based on how soon our region begins moving beyond this crisis. Producing a safe event is priority No. 1.”
Joslin said the Hall of Fame is “exploring all possible alternatives for ROMP and will share more information about that soon. Conversations with state and local officials will ensure the best decisions for everyone involved.”
He said, “Once everything is in place, ROMP staff will communicate directly to current ticket holders and will provide ongoing updates at rompfest.com and social media outlets.”
The lineup was to have included Chris Thile’s American Public Media show “Live from Here,” Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers, The Devil Makes Three, Sam Bush, We Banjo 3, Mandolin Orange, Dan Tyminski, Town Mountain, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper (winners of the 2020 Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album), Balsam Range, Front Country, Trout Steak Revival, Blue Highway, The Price Sisters and Giri & Uma Peters.
Mark Calitri, president of the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said. “Bluegrass music is a major part of our identity and ROMP is how many visitors experience Owensboro and Daviess County initially. It’s an important gateway to discovering all that we have to offer as a community.”
He said the Hall of Fame “is a vital tourism partner and Visit Owensboro will do all we can to support ROMP to ensure this signature event remains strong for our area.”
Joslin said with the Hall of Fame closed for more than a month now and concerts in Woodward Theatre being canceled, he’s exploring federal aid.
He said he’s preparing grant applications and applying for help from the Small Business Administration.
Joslin said, “It is fortunate that the Hall of Fame is much more diversified today than we were just a few years ago. While virtually everything is at a standstill for us currently, we entered into this crisis much stronger than we would have a few years as a result of revenue generated from higher visitor numbers to the museum, live events at the Hall of Fame, retail sales in our museum store, space rental for private events along with food & beverage revenue, more effective development initiatives due to a more robust infrastructure and staffing around that function, expanded educational programming and more effective sponsorship development.”
Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@ messenger-inquirer.com