Three Rivers Festival canceled amid virus threat

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The coronavirus has claimed Fort Wayne’s summer festival.

The 2020 Three Rivers Festival has been canceled. Executive Director Jack Hammer announced Thursday morning that the potential risk from the virus was too great to hold the 52nd annual festival.

The festival was set to begin July 10.

FILE – Three Rivers Festival Parade

“We have done our research and reached out to many professionals, but it all comes down to the risk,” Hammer said. “If we hold public events that could increase the spread of the virus, we risk the health of our community members.”

Hammer said there is also a financial risk to holding a festival during a pandemic, “without knowing how the public will react to large group gatherings,” Hammer said. The Three Rivers Festival invests tens of thousands of dollars to put the event on, and draws tens of thousands festival-goers, and that financial loss would be catastrophic, he said.

Hammer said the festival board put in an “exhausting amount” of research and conversation before it decided to cancel this year’s festival. The Three Rivers Festival has never been canceled in its history.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Indiana Back on Track plan to reopen the state allowed conventions, sports events, fairs, festivals, the state fair, and like events to resume on July 4. Hammer said, though, that viruses don’t play by rules.

“Viruses cannot read a calendar or respect state lines,” Hammer said, “and if Indiana sees even a one-week setback, we would not be able to have the festival this year at all.”

Hammer said the 2020 Three Rivers Festival was technically being postponed until 2021.

To relive Three Rivers Festivals from the past, check out the video below.

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