Organisers of Berry's Fairgrounds Festival may have to abandon plans for the event or relocate it to another state, if new state government regulations go ahead as planned.
The new changes to music festival licensing are still being written and finalised but will come into effect on March 1, with the potential to force small festivals out of business. The new measures, dubbed "a war on festivals", follow the recent deaths of five people at NSW music festivals.
According to the Don't Kill Live Music petition, which Fairgrounds Festival has signed, the new regulations, which would impact any festival that runs for more than five hours and has more than 2000 patrons, were an "abuse of power".
"Officially the industry has been told the music festival liquor licence begins on March 1," it said.
"The new regulations are still being written. The industry has been told to comply with the proposed requirements before they have even been made into laws, which is an abuse of power by [Liquor and Gaming NSW]."
The new licensing laws require festival organisers to apply for a licence that must meet a checklist of requirements from NSW Police, Liquor and Gaming NSW, NSW Ambulance, and NSW Health - before it is approved, which could cost festivals tens of thousand of dollars.
Mark Dodds, Fairgrounds Festival director, said he feared for the future of the Berry festival.
"If the increased cost burden on Fairgrounds is even a fraction of what I'm hearing from industry figures who are being affected this summer, Fairgrounds would simply not be able to return to the region as it has for the last four years," he said.
"We'd be forced to either abandon plans for the event altogether or relocate it festival outside NSW."
Mr Dodds said the new licensing fees would become too costly for small medium sized festivals, with the potential to force many out of business. Some regulations are yet to be written, and the state government is receiving mass criticism for its lack of transparency with festival organisers.
"The idea that festivals are run by profiteering millionaires out to make a quick buck is the furthest thing from the truth," he said.
"Only two months ago, we were positively glowing after staging our biggest and most successful year ever.
"But, speaking for myself, I'm also in my thirties and need to weigh up other considerations; I have rent, and a partner and we're trying to get our first home loan.
"It's difficult to see how small business owners like myself can be expected to gamble our personal livelihoods when nobody can tell us what regulatory environment we'll be waking up to of a morning."
If the festival were to leave the region, it wouldn't just be music lovers left feeling the effects. The Shoalhaven economy would also take a huge hit.
In December 2018, about 6000 people visited the Shoalhaven for the fourth annual Fairgrounds Festival, which generated almost $3 million in the local economy.
According to Shoalhaven Tourism, the festival has huge flow-on effects for the whole community, with accommodation often booked out in areas like Jervis Bay, Shoalhaven Heads and Kangaroo Valley.
At the time of last year's festival, Shoalhaven Tourism said early December was generally a quieter period for tourism on the South Coast, and the festival did a lot to boost expenditure and visitation in the region.
In a statement, the NSW Government said the new scheme was designed to ensure that events with a poor track record and/or heightened risk will face greater oversight.
"It will require ill-equipped operators to lift their standard to make all musical festivals safer," it said.
"However, if you have previously held a safe, low risk festival (unless you are planning significant changes to its usual format) we are highly likely to determine your festival to be low-risk."
It is understood each festival's risk factor will be scaled to a point system matrix, which will depend on several factors, including the average age of attendees.
While Fairgrounds is a family-friendly festival and has never had a drug detection, Mr Dodds said it was still likely to fall in the 'extreme risk' category.
"While we sell tickets to people of all ages, 55 per cent of our ticket holders in 2018 were over the age of 30 and 25 per cent were 12 years old or under," he said.
"To be forced to categorise ourselves as a 'Music Festival/Rave Event' feels wildly counter-intuitive and is completely against the spirit of what we do. Our whole philosophy is to create a relaxed, inclusive environment that proves you're never too old or young to enjoy great music."
The Don't Kill Live Music petition, which had more than 63,000 signatures on Thursday, demands the state government convene a music regulation roundtable to review all regulation impacting live music, undertakes a Regulatory Impact Statement for any regulation impacting music festivals.