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Uncertainty around future COVID-19 restrictions impacting on major community events has forced organisers of Bendigo’s Scots Day Out to cancel the 2021 event.

SDO 2020 last February was the last major Scottish celebration in Australia before COVID-19 pandemic restrictions were announced. We had again welcomes more than 5000 people to the annual free event in Rosalind Park in February - pipers, drummers, folk musicians, clans and Scots fans from around Australia.

We have been in extensive consultation for several months with City of Greater Bendigo on options to hold celebrations in a public area next year.

However, guidelines required by government for major regional events to be considered for approval, continued risk of snap changes to restrictions and limits on participant and spectator numbers, there is an absence of a practical framework with surety for planning SDO 2021. Additionally, despite co-operation from City of Greater Bendigo, it has not been possible to find a suitable COVID-safe venue with Rosalind Park not meeting criteria.

Pipe bands, a centrepiece of SDO, have been unable to practice since March and public performances into the foreseeable are not possible under current and projected restrictions, including the wearing of face masks. Other pipe band competitions and highland gatherings through until next March have already been cancelled.

SDO attracts people from across Australia, including Scottish stall holders who travel from interstate and through their site fees assist in the financial sustainability of the free event.

We regret that our ninth running of Scots Day will not be possible in 2021. It has been a difficult decision and we thank City of Greater Bendigo for its ongoing support of SDO and willingness to investigate venue options.

Events like Scots Day Out are important community showpieces across regional Victoria and their absence from the regional event calendar is leaving a gaping link in our hopes for a return to social connection and cohesion that will be essential in the rebuilding and recovery journey for local economies, communities, organisations and people.

SDO merchandise in the official Bendigo tartan continues to be on sale through Bendigo Visitor Information Centre. Bendigo Mac, the Bendigo tartan koala mascot, has been a particular favourite during COVID restrictions with people looking to have a cherished memento of Bendigo.

We, hopefully, can again welcome people to Scots Day Out Bendigo in a safe and friendly environment in 2022.

In the meantime, please stay safe and well.

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