THE Christchurch Food Festival, one of the biggest events in the town’s calendar, has been delayed by nearly four months over the coronavirus outbreak.
The popular celebration, which attracts crowds of thousands of people every year, has been shifted from 8th-10th May to the bank holiday weekend of 29th-31st August.
Organisers said it was a “very difficult decision” and thanked BCP and Christchurch town councils for agreeing new dates for the venue and road closure.
The annual festival draws foodies for miles around and hosts stalls, cooking demonstrations and activities.
A spokesperson said in a statement that the event looked set to coincide with the government’s aim to slow the disease’s peak to around May and June.
They said: “From the festival’s perspective, regardless of whether by then the government has ordered a ban on large gatherings (which in our view seems very likely), our feeling is that this would be a catastrophic time period to be trying to deliver a large scale public event, particularly with regard to the health of visitors, traders and our staff.”
So far the government has not issued a ban on large-scale gatherings but has indicated measures could be ramped up in the coming weeks.
The statement added: “Our aim has always been to deliver an event that supports small independent businesses with the opportunity to enjoy fantastic trading conditions as well as creating an exciting experience for tens of thousands of visitors. We do not believe that the current dateline will now offer this.
“We are obviously very sorry that we have had to take this decision and for the inconvenience it will cause.
“However, we passionately believe that this will provide the best outcome for the thou-sands of visitors, the traders and the sponsors who support the festival each year and that by the end of the summer things will be back to normal so we can all enjoy an outstanding and successful event for everyone.”
Mary Reader, co-chair of Highcliffe Food and Arts Festival which is due to take place on 13th and 14th June, said a decision would be made this today (Monday) on whether that is still going ahead.
Other local events have also been affected by the coronavirus including Milford Music Festival in June which has been cancelled completely. Last weekend’s New Milton Music Festival was also stopped.