Sakura Matsuri to return in 2021

The Taiko Drummers won't be seen this year after Sakura Matsuri was cancelled. File photo.
The Taiko Drummers won't be seen this year after Sakura Matsuri was cancelled. File photo.

The Cowra Japanese Garden and Cultural Centre has made the unfortunate decision to cancel the 2020 Sakura Matsuri festival.

In a post on Facebook, the Garden said that "the recent coronavirus lockdown in Victoria and the 'hot-spots' identified in Sydney in the past couple of days have highlighted the potential risks".

"It was decided that in the interest of public health and safety to cancel this year's event.

"We do apologise for any inconvenience and we hope that we will be able to bring you Sakura Matsuri again in the Spring of 2021."

Manager of the Garden, Shane Budge, said public health and safety was their primary concern.

"There was too much risk with going ahead when we don't know what's going to be happening next week," he said.

"Bringing 2500 people into the garden on a single day is probably not a viable option at this point.

"The sad fact is that next week is an unknown as to what rules might be tightened. What the future holds is up in the air."

Mr Budge said the Garden hadn't written off entertaining visitors throughout spring.

"What we are looking for at the moment is to run a six week program of events from late September through to the end of October," he said.

"We are looking to bring one or two Japanese cultural activities in each weekend and people will be able to experience that as they go through the garden.

"We'll still be inviting people to come and I've already spoken to many of those that do demonstrations, they are still keen to be involved.

"But much depends on what happens with COVID restrictions and how much space we can give them."

He said that while Sakura Matsuri was the Garden's biggest fundraiser, any experience they present would not cost visitors extra.

"What we do, it's not going to be ticketed and generate extra income.

"So what we present will have to weigh up the cost of travel expenses and accommodation, but we do feel it's important to provide that cultural connection and experience.

"Everyone has been very supportive and understanding of the position that we are in and the whole COVID culture.

"The reality is with the current situation in Victoria, Sydney and Batemans Bay there may be more before there is less."

Mr Budge said there was still a positive outcome for the Garden despite the ongoing difficulties.

"Our online fundraising has been going pretty well, it's still there, it reached around $40,000," he said.

"In addition to that we've got some more contributors outside the online space that have helped us be in a position to maintain the garden.

"We've been fortunate we have the support of Cowra Tourism and Cowra Council, they're all helping us out.

"The future looks much brighter for us," he said.

Mr Budge said the community could follow what the Garden would present over spring by visiting their Facebook page.