Liverpool’s marquee festival cancelled again

A photo of a privateer with a long gun standing against a backdrop of Nova Scotia at sunset.
Privateer Days has been cancelled for 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo contributed by Privateer Days Commission.
Ed Halverson - QCCR - LiverpoolNS | 22-01-2021

Privateer Days has been called off again this summer.

The annual event, normally held near the last weekend in June, once again fell victim to the effects of COVID-19.

Privateer Days Commission Chair Terrena Parnell says the organizers are heartbroken to cancel the event, but they had to put public safety first.

“We have thousands of people coming to Privateer Days every year and there’s absolutely no way that we can have people in there volunteering, chasing people around saying, wear your masks, social distance, that type of thing. It’s just impossible to try to deal with something on that large of a scale,” said Parnell.

Like almost every other festival in 2020, Privateer Days was cancelled last year because of the restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Parnell says many of the performers and suppliers scheduled to be part of last year’s event were waiting for the phone call to go ahead with this year’s event.

The commission has been keeping a close eye on the restrictions and the way the vaccine is rolling out across Nova Scotia and didn’t see how enough would change to allow the event to go ahead this year.

“We don’t think things are going to go back to normal for a while yet, and just felt that it was best for everyone involved, both spectators and the participants, to cancel early instead of waiting until the last minute and saying, oh, no, we’re not going to have it and have to turn everyone away," Parnell said.

Parnell is aware some people think the event was cancelled too early but points out the logistics involved in mounting a festival of this size require time.

She says suppliers need to line up equipment and transportation to and from Liverpool. Uncertainty around border crossing rules between provinces could mean some suppliers, such as New Brunswick-based East Coast Amusement Rides may not be able to cross into Nova Scotia.

“With the restrictions and the bans in place, you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future,” said Parnell. “It may seem like we cancelled early, but it’s only six months away and those six months can go very quickly.”

Parnell says as the organization looks ahead to 2022, they are in a stable financial position. The commission is constantly looking for new sources of revenue, such as grants to fund the event.

But for next year, she would like to see locals dig in and show what the event means to them.

“I’m hoping that with everything being closed down for two years, that next year we’ll have the community and the business support when we do start our fundraising again to help us make a larger event a reality,” Parnell said.

Reported by Ed Halverson 
Twitter: @edwardhalverson

To listen to the broadcast of this story, press play below.