Organisers of the 2022 Goldfields Cavalcade have made the “gut wrenching” decision to pull the pin on this year’s event.
The cancellation coincides with the cavalcade’s 30th year celebration.
The event was scheduled for the end of this month with hundreds of cavalcaders due to converge at the end of it on host town Millers Flat on March 5.
However the move to the Red traffic light setting due to the surge of the Covid-19 Omicron variant and the introduction of new regulations forced organisers’ hands.
Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust (OGHT) secretary and Cavalcade co-ordinator Terry Davis said he and fellow co-ordinator OGHT treasurer Odette Hopgood-Bride had hoped to continue the event under the Red traffic light setting but as new phases and restrictions were introduced last week it became obvious it would not be an option.
“We’ve gone through the phases of grief.
denial early last week he said.
“With the change in regulations and the dire predictions, we felt the choice was taken from us.”
A meeting with the Millers Flat host town committee and key trail representatives on Sunday cemented the decision with all agreeing not to proceed this year.
While it was theoretically possible to proceed with the Cavalcade, it would be irresponsible, he said.
The heightened risk Covid-19 posed to participants, caterers, landowners and rural communities was not a risk anyone was willing to take.
“The average age of a cavalcader is 65, with a disproportionately high number of 70 to 80-year-olds.
“They’re not vulnerable they’re fit and healthy don’t feel comfortable with the added risk Covid and the Omicron variant places on everything,” Mr Davis said.
Concerns from landowners and the potential of taking the virus into remote and isolated areas was also a factor, Mrs Hopgood-Bride said.
“There is a big massive concern about the food chain, about essential workers not being able to work farmers need to keep working,” she said.
It is the second time the event has been cancelled in its history. The first was in 2000 due to fire risk.
In 2020 the Cavalcade finished prior to the first national lockdown, and last year went ahead without the host town celebrations.
“We thought it was worth persevering with [during Covid], we believed we could make it happen but unfortunately our worst fears have been realised,” Mr Davis said.
Mrs Hopgood-Bride said organisers were acutely aware the financial impact cancellation would have on Millers Flat and community groups who relied on the event for fundraising.
“The knock-on effect is so big, and we’re very aware of it,” she said.
OGHT paid $300,000 to $350,000 from the Cavalcade to non-profit groups annually, with the event bringing in $1.2million to host town areas.
“It’s a significant financial loss to the OGHT and Teviot community.”
Millers Flat host town committee chairwoman Hilary Spedding said while the cancellation was disappointing, the priority was to keep the community safe.
She was looking forward to celebrating the 30th cavalcade trail in Millers Flat next year, she said.