IBMA announces proof of vaccination and indoor masking for World of Bluegrass ’21

The International Bluegrass Music Association has announced updated health and safety protocols this afternoon for the 2021 World of Bluegrass Convention and associated events next month in Raleigh, NC. These are in response to heightened concerns about COVID spread, and a recent proclamation from the Mayor of Raleigh mandating the use of face masks in all indoor spaces.

The new protocol for all artists, volunteers, and attendees are:

  • Proof of vaccination (without exceptions) will be required for attendance at any IBMA World of Bluegrass activity requiring registration and ticketing: the IBMA Business Conference, the IBMA Bluegrass Ramble showcase series, the 32nd Annual IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards presented by Yamaha, and the main stage at the Red Hat Amphitheater for IBMA Bluegrass Live! powered by PNC. As in years past, IBMA World of Bluegrass indoor events will take place at the Raleigh Convention Center, the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, and at various venues downtown.
  • Masks will also be required at all indoor activities during IBMA/WOB.
  • Attendees will be required to show proof of vaccination upon check-in to the event and issued a wristband that must be worn at all IBMA/WOB events.
  • Anyone who has already purchased registration or tickets but prefers not to participate in the updated health protocols for the 2021 event will be given a choice with our updated refund policy, which will be available online at

Mike Simpson, IBMA Board Chair, says that they were unanimous in this decision.

“As live bluegrass music begins to re-emerge, our emphasis on a safe return cannot be understated. We have been closely monitoring safety guidelines, and in the interest of everyone’s safety, our Board of Directors has taken the unanimous position that participation in this year’s World of Bluegrass begins and ends with safety – requiring proof of vaccination and indoor mask wearing. I am pleased to say that our discussions were strikingly non-political and focused purely on the best safety measures that we could take for all involved.”

And new IBMA Executive Director, Pat Morris, says that he doesn’t expect this to be a burden to many attendees.

“Our internal surveys – conducted in both March and July – found that more than 90% of respondents planning to attend this year’s World of Bluegrass also planned to be fully vaccinated before getting to Raleigh. We have been working diligently with our partners in Raleigh to bring the community together for an unmatched bluegrass experience in a safe environment, and the health and safety of our attendees is our number one priority. Some of the changes we have already made include planning for less crowding in the Raleigh Convention Center and Red Hat Amphitheater; streamlined scheduling, larger conference session spaces, and careful consideration of bottleneck areas.”

For those not able to attend in person, we will be streaming select content throughout the week on Swapcard. Virtual attendees will have access to the virtual exhibit hall, conference sessions, music performances, and more.”

Expect more details on access to streaming from World of Bluegrass soon.

Morris also shared that IBMA will continue to analyze and adjust safety protocols in conjunction with the health officials in Raleigh as we approach the start of World of Bluegrass, the last week in September.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.