The Darrington Bluegrass Festival, seen here in 2018, has been canceled for the fist time in its 44-year history. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The Darrington Bluegrass Festival, seen here in 2018, has been canceled for the fist time in its 44-year history. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Both of Darrington’s iconic summer music festivals canceled

Organizers of the Darrington Bluegrass Festival and the Summer Meltdown say they’ll be back in 2021.

This will be the summer the music died in Darrington.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Summer Meltdown and the Darrington Bluegrass Festival have been canceled. The Bluegrass Festival had been scheduled for mid-July; the Meltdown was set for early August.

“In consultation with all our wonderful collaborators, it became clear that having a big get-together this summer isn’t going to be a safe thing to do,” Meltdown organizers Josh Clauson and Genevieve Hayton said in a statement on their website.

The Bluegrass and Country Music Makers’ Association, organizers of the Bluegrass Festival, reached the same conclusion.

“The health and safety of our volunteers, customers, artists, vendors and community is of the utmost importance to us,” festival organizers wrote in a statement on the event’s website. “We will be back stronger than ever July 16, 17 and 18, 2021, to celebrate the 44th Darrington Bluegrass Festival.”

The festivals are stylistically different. Thetwo-decade-old Meltdown Festival showcases an eclectic lineup of jam bands, indie rockers and artists that mix, match and bend genres. The headliner this summer was going to be Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien, who now performs under the name EOB.

The Bluegrass Festival spotlights both traditional and progressive takes on that quintessential American musical genre. This year’s headliner was set to be Grammy Award winners Rhonda Vincent and the Rage.

“This is going to hurt the town,” said Diana Morgan, who runs publicity and promotions for the festival. “They depend on those events to help them get through the winter. It brings in a lot of revenue.”

“It’s real bad bummer,” she said of the first cancelation in the festival’s 44-year history.

It’s a bummer for the nationwide bluegrass community, too.

“This is one of their very favorite festivals. They come every year,” Morgan said.

The good news is that the 2021 festival will boast the same musical lineup. Everybody scheduled to perform this summer has agreed to come next year, including the headliners, Morgan said.

A number of the acts slated for the 2020 Meltdown have indicated they’ll return in 2021, according to the event website.

Both events draw thousands of music lovers to the Darrington Bluegrass Park, also known as the Whitehorse Mountain Amphitheater, for the mountain that looms above it.

Meltdown organizers Clauson and Hayton say they hope ticket buyers will hang onto them for the 2021 event.

“We’re going to be honest that this is a nightmare scenario for an event of our size, and that it will make a huge difference if most of our ticket buyers can hold on to their tickets,” they wrote on their website. “We aren’t getting a big insurance payout, and there’s no music conglomerate swooping in to save us, so we’ve made a plan to make it work. It’s going to be hard, but we can do it. It will be so much less hard if Melters can help by investing in a Melty future.”

Ticket buyers who need a refund can request one through May 20 by going to

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