March 4, 2022

River & Sky Music Festival requiring COVID-19 vaccine to attend | CBC News

An annual music and camping event, held east of Sudbury, is requiring all attendees to show proof of at least one COVID-19 vaccination.

River and Sky Music and Camping Festival will be going ahead this month, albeit on a smaller scale, and with some changes to ensure health and safety for everyone.

Normally held on private property in the small community of Field, the festival had to go virtual last year due to the pandemic.

This year the outdoor festival will be condensed into two days instead of a full week, and everyone who attends must show proof of immunization with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, says executive director Abigail Cassio.

“It just became a decision that everyone agreed would make it a bit safer and make everyone on site more comfortable in this new type of scenario we’re in.”

“I think we might be the first festival going ahead with plans, and so we wanted everyone to be comfortable and safe,” she said.

To gain access, festival-goers must show their Ministry of Health vaccine receipt from getting at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“All it has on it is your name and the date in which you received your vaccine; your health card number is blocked off, so there isn’t any personal or private medical information on it.”

“I think that’s why the ministry set it up that way, so that businesses and organizations would have the choice on whether or not they could ask for it,” Cassio said.

Chris Fisher owns the property where the annual River and Sky Music and Camping Festival takes place. (Screenshot/CBC)

Chris Fisher owns the property, Fisher’s Paradise, where the event is normally held. He says the vaccine requirement is not up for debate.

“From my perspective, it’s not an argument, and perhaps people will say ‘well you can’t do that.’ Well, the fact is I want that done, and it’s on private property. It’s my property.”

“So as I say to my kids: ‘It’s my house, it’s my rules,” Fisher said.

“We need this to go off without a hitch.”

Fisher wants to see the arts get back on its feet after so many closures and cancellations during the pandemic.

“It’s just super important that we start to open up again, and this for me will be a real breath of fresh air,” he said.

Other regulations for attendees include a COVID test upon entry. If they leave the grounds at any time throughout the two day event they won’t be permitted back in. 

“We want to just ensure that everybody on site …doesn’t have a possibility of getting exposed.”

Cassio says since they posted the details on their social media accounts they’ve got lots of feedback. 

“We’ve had some questions, we’ve had some comments,” she said, adding that festival organizers hope this is the only year the vaccine requirement will be needed.

“There’s been far more support than there has been upset,” Cassio said.

“We stand for inclusivity and respect, and above all we stand for keeping our community safe,” she said.

River and Sky Music and Camping festival has had to reduce its capacity to just 300 this year. That’s down significantly from the 3,800 attendees in 2019.

The festival is set for July 16 and 17.

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