LONDON, ONT. -- Several major local festivals have been postponed until next summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

TD Sunfest has been postponed until July 8-11, 2021 and Home County Music and Art Festival has been postponed until July 16-18, 2021. Rocks the Park is also being postponed until July 14-17, 2021.

Officials with the Sunfest Committee and the Home County Folk League announced Monday they made the difficult, but necessary decisions to postpone after consulting with government and health officials and following their advice on how to respond to the pandemic.

“In these extraordinary and worrying times, nothing matters more than our commitment to protect the health, safety and well-being of the SUNFEST family and the wider community in which we live,” said Alfredo Caxaj, executive and artistic director of TD Sunfest.

Organizers say they know the tremendous impact that a postponement will have on all the festival stakeholders, including artists, food and craft exhibitors, patrons, staff and volunteers.

“This was a very hard call to make, but it is clearly the wisest and most responsible choice,” said Paul Mills, chair of the Home County Folk League. “The path that the COVID-19 pandemic will take over the next few months is uncertain, and rather than take any chances, the most prudent course of action was to make this difficult but necessary decision.”

The festivals are called two of the main drivers of London’s tourism boom. The popular events normally attract tens of thousands of visitors, contribute millions of dollars to the local and provincial economies, and represent the greatest expressions of the Forest City’s musical and socio-cultural diversity in a free and upbeat environment.

“The TD Sunfest and Home County festivals are special gathering places for friends, family and community. We know this announcement is difficult for many to hear as we crave familiar sights and sounds,” said Andrea Hibbert, executive director of the London Arts Council.

“We will continue to work with these arts organizations in order to navigate through these uncertain times. And when it is safe to gather again, we will meet you in the park,” added Hibbert.

With many countries, including Canada, still in lockdown and limiting international travel and guest artists unable to secure visas and make flight arrangements, organizers say this July is no time to stage major outdoor public gatherings.

Organizers say the next few months are going be particularly challenging for Sunfest and Home County, both of which are grass-roots non-profit organizations that survive on sponsorships, grants and public donations, but they are excited about returning stronger than ever in the summer of 2021.

London Mayor Ed Holder said, "“We can't look at these festivals and not have empathy for the impact it has on everyone, everyone is paying a price.”