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MILWAUKEE, Wis. – Organizers of the nation’s largest music festival announced Tuesday that the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic has forced the event’s postponement from June and July to September.

Milwaukee World Festival Inc. said they are hopeful the delay will give public health officials more time to administer COVID-19 vaccines to the general public, WISN reported.

“The optimism is high given the vaccines that are out there, but we agreed that it would take longer to vaccinate the broader community than what our June 24 start date was going to allow,” Milwaukee World Festival President and CEO Don Smiley told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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Meanwhile, live music industry experts have told the Journal Sentinel that achieving herd immunity through vaccinations will be imperative “for concerts to return in larger numbers” after COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns sidelined the sector beginning in March 2020.

The festival will retain its three-weekend format, but the new dates for Summerfest 2021 are now Sept. 2-4, 9-11 and 16-18.

“We were advised that it’s going to take more time to get to the broader community to get people vaccinated than our June 23 start date would have allowed. So, from the beginning, we had a June plan and (a) September plan, and we just basically pushed the September button when we had all of the facts in front of us,” Smiley told WISN.

“We will continue to work diligently with civic officials and healthcare professionals as we prepare to welcome artists, fans, employees, vendors and sponsorship partners this summer. Our team is excited to get back to what we do best, as soon as possible,” Smiley added.

Other major U.S. music festivals – including Bonnaroo in Tennessee, Governor’s Ball in New York and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival – have already postponed their May and June festivals until September and October, with California’s Coachella canceling its April dates, the Journal Sentinel reported.

In addition to its star-studded lineup, three new venues will be unveiled during Summerfest 2021, including the $51.3 million American Family Insurance Amphitheater, the Northwestern Mutual Community Park and the Generac Power Stage, WISN reported.

With reserves at an “all-time low,” Smiley told the TV station that postponing the 2021 festivities is preferable to canceling the festival, which happened for the first time in 53 years in 2020, costing the organization an estimated $10 million in lost revenue.

“In response, we have a long-term plan in place to rebuild those reserves as well as the support and dedication of our long-term sponsors. Summerfest is not going anywhere,” he added.

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