Monday, April 22, 2024

Wilmington’s Azalea Festival is canceling all events over covid-19 concerns [Free read]

North Carolina Azalea Festival logo

WILMINGTON — After several days of deliberation, the North Carolina Azalea Festival has decided to cancel all festivities.

After earlier asserting the festival would continue on, organizers made an announcement several hours after Governor Cooper’s office stated that any public gathering larger than 100 people should be canceled.

Azalea Festival organizers said some events would be rescheduled; they also said details of the ramifications of the cancelation were still being worked out. The festival promised more information would be forthcoming as those details were worked out.

The announcement comes just one day after festival organizers confidentially announced they had no plans to cancel the event, an indication of how quickly concerns of over Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel form of the coronavirus, have evolved.

While festival organizers have not answered media questions about the decision to cancel, they did release the following statement:

We have come to the day many of us have been dreading; out of an abundance of caution we must cancel our beloved North Carolina Azalea Festival 2020. This statement comes to you with heavy hearts – the Azalea Festival has been a staple in our community for 73 years, showcasing our beautiful city, highlighting our amazing citizens, and sharing our Southern hospitality and community pride, and we hate to lose even one year of that.

We know this news will be met with mixed emotions. We have been closely monitoring the decisions to cancel other local and state festivals and events; realizing that there are many factors unique to each events’ decision to cancel. Our decision was made at the direction of State and local officials. We have been in constant communication with our local emergency management team for weeks and as of today, we have decided it is in the best interest of our community to cancel the Azalea Festival April 1-5th.

Our community is a very special place, so we’d like to take this moment to encourage you in this time of uncertainty to think about those most at risk. We encourage you to follow the advice of officials regarding how to mitigate the spread of the virus, which includes proper handwashing, sanitizing environments, and staying isolated from others if feeling sick. Please consider how cancellations and closings might affect children and families most in need and think about how you may help. Support local and small businesses when you can.

As for the Azalea Festival, we know there will be many questions. This is unexplored territory for us, so we ask for your patience as we all navigate this together. The Festival is a non-profit and relies solely on the generous sponsor donations and ticket sales. Some Festival events may be rescheduled later in 2020 and, with your help, we will be back for the 2021 Azalea Festival. The Azalea Festival depends on over 1,000 volunteers and a full-time staff of 3. We are untangling all the plans that were fast in motion. Our team has thousands of people to contact; including our partners, sponsors, volunteers, and of course, our guests. Please know we will be in contact as soon as we can with more information. Updates will be provided in the Press Room on the Azalea Festival website.

In the meantime, please take measures to keep yourself and your loved ones safe, take care of your neighbors, and continue to show the world the Southern hospitality we are all so proud of.

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