The East Coast RepRap Festival (“ERRF”) has cancelled their 2021 event.
In recent years the festival has become the place for launching new desktop 3D printing equipment for the DIY community, as the other major events have been focusing on industrial gear.
Originally scheduled for October of this year, the organizers are now focusing on a 2022 event, abandoning this year’s festival. They explain in a Twitter post:
“It bring us no joy to make this announcement, but there will not be an in person ERRF event this year.
Figuring out the feasibility of an in-person event for 2021 has been difficult at best. We looked to all our past sponsors, exhibitors and attendees to gauge the interest levels through the ERRF 3D printing community. After many emails, surveys and some extra reach outs and follow-ups, we now understand that we don’t have enough interest to put on a proper ERRF event. While things are improving overall for COVID-19, we are not out of it yet. None of our international sponsors would be able to join us either due to current lockdowns and or strict quarantine routines required post travel. There is even concern form several domestic 3D printing companies about attending large events that draw people from all parts of the country to a central location. Some are concerned about whether we will or will not have a mask mandate for the event, and there are a lot of strong feelings within the ERRF community on both sides of the argument.
When we set out to do the East Coast RepRap Festival back in 2017, we ultimately decided it was best to push things back so we could do the event the right way, and not rush it, or force it to happen. Because of that, in 2018, we had a great inaugural event. Through careful planning, our 2019 event was even bigger and better than our first. We are sticking to our principles here and we are not going to put out an event that we feel is at risk. There is too much at stake for everyone involved, and we have too much respect for our community to try to put on a subpar event that will be half-empty. We also do not feel that this is the time to try to convince people to participate in an in-person event. People and companies both need to make that decision freely, and we are not pushing that point with anyone out of respect.
While we know this is going to be disappointing to some, this is the right decision for where we are right now for ERRF. When it comes to the safety of our community, and even ourselves, we believe it is better to err on the side of caution. Our next in person ERRF event will be ERRF2022, and we will start planning that event in earnest early next year.”
I appreciate the organizers’ candor in explaining the challenging situation. It’s easy to dismiss the current situation in an effort to “get things done”, but the reality is that we are still deeply in a pandemic and many measures must be taken.
The ERRF organizers are quite correct in their decision because the virus is still on the loose, and areas with poor vaccination rates still have it in circulation. Even worse, new variants are far more contagious than the original strain and require even higher levels of population immunity to be stopped. Bringing people from many regions together just doesn’t seem like a wise decision to me, and apparently to the ERRF organizers as well.
While some events still proceed, they’re taking a risk. One recent event, a Bitcoin conference in Miami, is said to have become a super spreader event.
I’m sure it’s scenarios of that type the ERRF organizers are trying to avoid.
It’s still puzzling to me why AMUG insisted on holding an in-person event earlier this year under what would have been even worse COVID-19 conditions as compared to today. And indeed, the Midwest RepRap Festival (MRRF) is slated to happen this coming weekend, in a relatively rural area with low vaccination rates.
For ERRF it was not just the current state of virus spread; it was also the regulations and restrictions that come with it. Many of their exhibitors are located outside the US, and thus they’d be subject to all manner of protocols both entering the US AND returning to their home base.
Events like ERRF must line up sponsors well ahead of the event, and that means “now”. But things have not settled sufficiently for enough companies to properly consider sponsorship of ERRF, placing the event in a financial puzzle.
It’s not yet time to hold a big event, but it’s getting closer. Hopefully this will be the last time ERRF is cancelled.