The Taree and District Eisteddfod Society has cancelled the 2020 eisteddfod in response to the world-wide COVID-19 pandemic.
The six week competition, which involved vocal, piano, dance, speech and drama, instrumental and school choir sections, was due to start at the Manning Entertainment Centre in late April.
"It's a horrible thing but we've called off the eisteddfod for this year," secretary Margaret Rogers said.
She said the committee had an option to hold the eisteddfod between July and September but decided against it as it would clash with three other eisteddfods on at that time.
On Wednesday, March 18, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a Federal Government ban on non-essential gatherings of 100 or more people indoors to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Margaret said there was nothing to say they won't drop that number lower again.
The Manning Entertainment Centre also announced it would close until April 30 and a number of upcoming performances have been cancelled.
Margaret said the eisteddfod had already called off the dance group weekend following the government's ban on gatherings for 500 people or more, announced on Saturday.
"Our theatre would have been full.
"It's better to look after our health, but it's sad for the kids."
This is the first time the eisteddfod has been cancelled since 1967.
As a result of the cancellation, Margaret said entry fees would be reimbursed.
"For most sections we are on Paypal so we just have to click a button to say refund and everyone gets their money back.
"For other sections where we still do entries the old fashioned way and haven't got on Paypal, our treasurer Rosemary Latimore will be contacting them for bank details. She'll be doing a lot of banking."
Planning for this year's eisteddfod began in August last year and entries had only just closed.
Work is now underway to contact all the adjudicators for this year's event, as well as entrants.
"Trophies will also need to be cancelled and that will affect those businesses."
The committee is mindful of the preparations entrants have already undertaken. "Parents have probably already got a lot of costumes already made."
She said it is too early to say what financial impact the cancellation will have on the eisteddfod itself.
"I think we'll be right. We'll get it worked out but it will be a big job. It will take a couple of months before everything washes up and we see where we are."
Thousands of entries are received to take part in the Taree and District Eisteddfod each year, with competitors travelling from across NSW and interstate.
"There's roughly 400 competitors just in dance," Margaret, who also co-coordinated the dance section, said
The 53rd annual competition was scheduled to start on April 15 and end on June 11, ahead of the grand concert on June 13.
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