The cancellation of the 2020 Rose of Tralee festival is a €10m blow to the economy in the Kerry town.
Organisers confirmed this year’s event will not take place due to the coronavirus pandemic, the first time in 61 years that it has been cancelled.
2019 winner Dr Sinéad Flanagan, the Limerick Rose, will keep the title for another year. Dr Flanagan was unavailable to comment on the cancellation of this year’’s event as she is a junior doctor, currently working on the frontline in a Cork hospital in the fight against the coronavirus but organisers said she was "happy to remain involved" in the Rose of Tralee for another 12 months.
In addition, organisers said eligibility rules for next year’s competition will stay as they are but anyone who has entered for this year’s event will see their entry honoured.
Last week, after the Government confirmed its ban on all gatherings of more than 5,000 people until the end of August, the organisers of the Rose of Tralee said they hoped it would be possible to stage the festival in the autumn. However, it has proven impossible to stage the selection events in centres around the world and, as such, the next festival will not take place until August 2021.
In addition to attracting some 5,000 people to the final of the festival, the Rose of Tralee draws many multiples of that to the streets of the Kerry town for parades.
Rose of Tralee executive chairman Anthony O’Gara said they had explored options in how the 2020 festival could be staged but have conceded it is not possible.
“This is the first time in our 61-year history that the festival has been postponed, but it is the right decision as we all play our part right now in keeping each other safe and well," he said.
“The Rose of Tralee International Festival operates on a year-long basis, in Irish communities worldwide; and we will continue to harness the goodwill of our extended Rose family in supporting communities and charitable efforts over the next 12 months."
Tralee Chamber Alliance said the cancellation of the event is a massive blow to the town and, indeed, the entire county’’s local economy. But, they added, it is the right decision, given the circumstances.
"While a major setback to the county, with the Rose of Tralee worth €10m to the local economy, the tough decision by the festival team has been made with the view to restoring our communities and economies following the pandemic," they said.
"We wish the Rose of Tralee team the very best and look forward to the festival’s return in 2021."