THE long-running Wath Folk Festival has been cancelled for the first time ever due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

The festival, in May, would have been the 48th consecutive instalment of the weekend-long event which brings together folk fans and the local community.

Organiser Alison Leone took on the role for the first time following last year’s event and had wanted to shift the focus to a more community-based theme but also maintaining the strong folk music links with artists like Bob Fox, Billy Mitchell and Stanley Accrington on stage.

“It’s heartbreaking but obviously we have a responsibility to everyone,” said Alison, from Swinton.

“We had initially looked like postponing but with it looking so unclear in the long-term, the committee had to make the decision to cancel.

“We were going to have more of a community focus this year with a lot of free events.

“I’ve had a ticket buyer from Lincolnshire get in touch. He was gutted because he’s been coming for years with his friends and it’s the only chance they have to see one another.

“We were due to have free workshops in art, dance, singing, drumming and dancing for the community, a storyteller for children as well as stalls and rides and entertainers.

“We had also booked Sheffield Folk Chorale to perform in Wath All Saints Church as well as the concerts at the rugby club and the Ceilidh.

“We were also planning to use Wath Town Hall, which has just been bought by local people from Rotherham Council, as a venue for some of our community events.”

Some of the artists have been pencilled in for next year’s festival instead.

The village-based event features local schoolchildren dancing around the May pole as well as traditional Morris dancing and the traditional of the reading of Thomas Tuke will followed by the throwing of bread from the church’s roof.

Refunds have already been processed.