Blueberry Jam will still move ahead, but not for a full weekend of music outdoors. This year's Blueberry Jam will instead be a one-night-only event, taking place Sept. 4.
The event will include nine bands - seven of which are based in the Flin Flon area - playing at the Blueberry Jam main stage from 4 p.m.-midnight.
When organizers announced last month that they would be holding a Blueberry Jam event, the plan was initially to host a series of shows as similar as possible to the first two Blueberry Jam events. While that goal is still the same, how close the festival can get has changed. Organizers are emphasizing that next summer's Blueberry Jam event is expected to be a multi-day, multi-stage event like those in 2018 and 2019.
"Over the past week we reviewed critical items, resources available, and the time left. On Friday we decided to reduce the length of Blueberry Jam 2021," reads a statement from organizers sent out August 24.
"We realize this means some musicians who have been practicing will not get a chance to perform and that some people will have made plans in anticipation of a longer festival. With more preparation time and more predictability in rules governing public gatherings, we hope to return in 2022 to a multiple-stage, three-day festival featuring acts of different sizes and in different musical styles."
Some changes were already expected due to COVID-19 health restrictions and a double booking - the Rotary Wheel, typically used as the second stage for Blueberry Jam, was booked for a wedding over the festival weekend.
The festival site will also have a capacity limit of 800 people, as per the latest public health orders from the Manitoba government. Outdoor gatherings like Blueberry Jam are allowed to have a maximum capacity of 1,500 people, but with musicians, volunteers, support staff and campers already at Flinty's Campground, the number was reduced.
Also unlike previous Blueberry Jams, seats will need to be reserved in advance. The reservations will be handled through the website ShowPass, which provides attendees a QR code to scan once they arrive at the festival site.
"We will not be checking vaccination status but we still encourage attendees to mask, use sanitizer when appropriate, and stay in their bubble," reads the organizing committee's statement.
"Despite the difficulties, we hope this will be an enjoyable, top-quality evening of entertainment and help keep the Blueberry Jam spirit alive."
The bands and musicians performing, along with further information about how the festival will look, are expected to be announced closer to Sept. 4.
"We thank all the performers and other volunteers who generously have offered to assist with Blueberry Jam this year, and hope, for those who we will unfortunately not be able to present on the festival weekend, that we can help share your talents with the community at next year’s Blueberry Jam, and in other events over the fall and winter season, including video presentations. Thank you everyone for understanding and supporting our efforts during this complicated time," reads the organizers' statement.