Organizers cancel 73rd annual Azalea Festival

Updated: Mar. 12, 2020 at 9:34 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Organizers for the North Carolina Azalea Festival have cancelled this year’s festival in light of the coronavirus.

The North Carolina Azalea Festival broke the news Thursday night, 19 days until the event was expected to kick off.

“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,” the letter says.

The Azalea Festival Team is working now to contact thousands of partners, sponsors and volunteers.

“We are saddened to cancel the Festival, but our first Consideration is public safety and health,” said Dr. Stephen Meinhold, 2020 North Carolina Azalea Festival President. “We hope to reschedule some events during the rest of the year and to be ready for 2021.”

The announcement was made hours after North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper asked that any gatherings exceeding 100 people be cancelled or postponed to stop the spread of the virus. A press release from the governor’s office says there are 15 cases of coronavirus in the state as of Thursday afternoon.

“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,” the letter says. “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.”

The press release says some festival events may be rescheduled later in 2020. Updates will be provided in the Press Room on the Azalea Festival website.

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