Guyra's iconic Lamb and Potato Festival has been cut, the "difficult" decision coming just weeks away from its January showcase.
"We wanted to be brave and get back to normality, but the risk was too great," Festival committee president Steve Mepham explained.
Normally held for up to 12 days under the majestic Elm trees on the New England Highway, this year would've seen festival-goers languish in a newly-constructed entertainment and dining shed.
Chatting to the Express, Mr Mepham said Covid posed too much of a risk to the community, the dedicated volunteers, and the committee's bottom line.
"The last thing we wanted to do was host a super-spreader event in Guyra," Mr Mepham explained.
"We have enough money in the float for a festival in 2023, so barring anymore Covid disruptions we will still be going ahead then."
He said if they decided to go ahead now, even for one day, the risk of losing money would jeopardise the festival's future.
Over 80 per cent of the sites had been sold to vendors - indicating there was still plenty of interest - yet he said within days of the Omicron variant rearing its head in NSW, over half pulled out.
Added to that, the changing rules around entry via the Queensland border deterred many from making the trip.
"With less vendors and less people on the roads, and added that many venues in Tamworth are cancelling their country music events... we couldn't be sure we'd even break even," he explained.
"We are completely self-sufficient, we don't have the backing of council or any other group... but if we got a sponsor for $5000 we could potentially do a weekend," Mr Mepham noted.
It's a bitter decision, made sharper by their hope to use their newly-completed entertainment and dining shed, erected and built thanks to a $130,000 State Government Community Partnership Program grant.
"We so looking forward to using it. It was finished just in time. But now we will have to wait another 12 months."
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