Rutherglen has taken a hit this Queen's birthday long weekend without Winery Walkabout, but businesses hope attendees will come out in force next month.
Winemakers of Rutherglen rescheduled the festival to July 24 and 25, resulting in multiple cancellations at Motel Woongarra.
Sue Prescott, who took over the motel with her husband Mark in March, said on Saturday one out of 12 units were occupied.
"I really hope it goes ahead in July," she said.
"It was even an eerie feeling through the town on Friday night, because there's usually such a buzz.
"Only a couple of people changed their bookings to July, and I already had other bookings for that weekend, so that was hard.
"But we are all in this together. We'll get through it; Rutherglen is such a great little town."
It is the second year in a row Rutherglen and Wahgunyah businesses have missed out on the boost from Walkabout during the long weekend.
The festival, which accounts for 10 to 20 per cent of annual revenue for many wineries, ran virtually in 2020.
Robyn Pfeiffer of Pfeiffer Wines said holding the event virtually again was out of the question due to the level of planning involved, which started as early as March last year.
"The executive (of Winemarkers) had a lot of discussion with the government about actually being able to have a festival this year, before this latest outbreak," she said.
"So the government said, 'You can do it with half the numbers', which meant 12,000 people could buy tickets across 19 wineries.
"We were all looking forward to that ... now, it has been postponed."
Without the public holiday, bookings have shifted from the Sunday to the Saturday, and there have been ticket refunds.
"It's been mixed ... some people have cancelled, but it still seems there's plenty of people who are going to support the event," Mrs Pfeiffer said.
"The dates were chosen with a purpose in mind; there actually isn't another long weekend in Victoria, so the thinking was to have it sooner rather than later so it's still in people's minds.
"I think it was a good decision.
"It's a little bit sad that it's quiet this weekend, although it reminds me of when we first started 37 years ago, when Winery Walkabout for us was all done in cellar door and we wondered what was going to happen."
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