IBMA has announced that the first day to purchase tickets and obtain hotel rooms for World of Bluegrass 2020 in Raleigh has been delayed from April 7 until an unspecified date in early summer. The move had been expected because of the coronavirus pandemic.
IBMA Executive Director Paul Schiminger said that for now, plans for the 25th annual conference were continuing. The September 29-October 2 dates for the event give the association plenty of time to keep an eye on developments and, hopefully, see a return to normalcy so the event can be held.
“We are fortunate to have several months until we see everyone in Raleigh, so we are currently anticipating an on-sale date in early-to-mid-June,” Schiminger said. “We know our bluegrass music community needs our important annual gathering more than ever, so we are working hard to make that happen.”
The opening day of ticket sales and room availability is a much-anticipated end-of-winter activity for IBMA members. The room block at the Marriott headquarters hotel usually sells out on the first day, with the nearby Sheraton following shortly after.
Yet to be seen, in addition to scale of the outbreak, is how quickly Americans regain the willingness to be in large crowds in tight spaces, such as the elevators, hallways, and even Raleigh streets at the height of the annual weekend street fair. I can’t speak for anyone else, but as I sit at home, starting week three of physical distancing in a state that’s all but shut down, I’m sure I’ll be eager to wade in as long as the disease has run its course.
The other unknown is how quickly the economy bounces back. The week generally requires a four-figure layout of cash for rooms, tickets and food, not to mention the cost of driving or flying there and back. That might be too much to shell out this year for some fans who have at least temporarily lost their jobs, and for retirees who have taken hits to their retirement savings. And for those who are working, vacation time might be harder to come by.
The enforced shutdown is also likely to mean that some bands or musicians won’t be able to pay their way by the fall.
But all of that is for another day. For now, the news that World of Bluegrass is still on the schedule is a little bright light in the darkness. We can all use that disinfectant for the mind.