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Bat Fest canceled after city denies permit for Saturday concert on Congress Avenue Bridge

People watch bats fly out from under the South Congress bridge in the rain at the 15th annual Bat Fest on Aug. 24, 2019.

Saturday's annual Bat Fest concert event on the Congress Avenue Bridge has been canceled after city officials denied the festival's permit, event presenter Roadway Productions announced via social media on Wednesday evening.

The post read, "It is with utter shock and great disappointment that we must announced that we were notified via email at 4:57 pm by the City of Austin (COA) Special Events Program Manager-Austin Center for Events, that our special event permit was denied for this Saturday's Bat Fest. Therefore we have been strong armed into cancelling our event."

RELATED:Photos from Bat Fest 2019

Rapper Fetty Wap and other artists were scheduled to perform.

According to city officials in a statement, the permit was denied "out of an abundance of caution" in regard to surging COVID-19 cases.

"In this current environment, some events cannot provide for or implement sufficient safety and health protocols necessary to prevent the spread," the city's statement read. "Additionally, public health conditions continue to strain local medical services, including hospital resources with Intensive Care Unit (ICU) capacities. These strains can impact the City’s delivery of emergency-related services and the provision of City services required to support government functions."

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Bat Fest's social media post claimed that their COVID-19 safety plan was previously approved by the city. Organizers also wrote that they had been in contact with the city since Aug. 11 "to communicate and make sure that our event would go on." The fest claimed that its staff was emailed by the city on Monday, "assuring us that we would have the event this Saturday."

Bat Fest's post added that "all indications from the City of Austin were that we had all of our ducks in a row as we have had for the other 15 previous years for this event. Now at the 11th hour we have been denied our permit and forced to cancel. We are shocked and devastated as this is a huge financial blow and harmful to our reputation as event producers. … We feel our event has been singled out arbitrarily and discriminated against."

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According to their statement, Bat Fest plans "to offer full refunds or the option to transfer your ticket to 2022," adding that ticketholders would receive an email from Front Gate Tickets on Thursday with more details.

In addition to Fetty Wap, local acts including Blackillac, Kevin Fowler and Janie Balderas were scheduled to perform at the 4 p.m. to midnight event, with stages on the bridge and the adjacent American-Statesman parking lot.