THE 2020 Hunter Coal Festival will be postponed until next year due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.
Organisers this week said the potential health risks of mass gatherings at events and the increasing possibility of having to cancel the festival closer to the scheduled October 2020 dates made the choice to postpone until 2021 a "difficult but responsible decision".
The Hunter Coal Festival is owned and organised by the Singleton Business Chamber (SBC).
SBC president Sue Gilroy said the COVID-19 situation would be closely monitored and formally reviewed in November when the 2021 dates for the festival events would be announced.
She added the chamber remained committed to staging the festival's three main events in 2021 - a Careers and Innovation Expo in Muswellbrook, the Mining Leaders Lunch in Singleton and the Singleton Community Day.
Organisers had also been working with other groups with plans to stage additional events during the festival; those discussions would continue and, hopefully, the 2021 timing would allow them to remain under the festival umbrella.
On the positive side, much of the festival's organisation was well-advanced - and it had attracted strong support from sponsors.
"All of that organisational work is transferable to the festival in 2021 so a large part of the administration facets of the organisation is complete and won't have to be completed again for 2021," Mrs Gilroy said.
"While they were disappointed that the festival was not going ahead in October, our sponsors and other stakeholders have been very understanding.
"They have pledged their support for a bigger and better festival in 2021.
"That's great because I think we are all going to be ready for a big celebration then."