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Columbus Arts Festival Canceled For 2020

Columbus Arts Festival has been canceled for 2020.
Joe Maiorana
Columbus Arts Festival
Columbus Arts Festival has been canceled for 2020.

The start of summer might feel a bit different in Columbus this year. The Columbus Arts Festival has been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The annual festival draws nearly half a million people to the riverfront in downtown Columbus over a weekend in June. But as the coronavirus pandemic shows no sign of slowing, Jami Goldstein of the Greater Columbus Arts Council explains they decided to call the event off.

“Given the uncertainty of how long this will last and whether there will be waves, we just knew that we had to put the health and safety of Columbus residents and our artists and sponsors and everyone first,” Goldstein says.

Like the Arnold Sports Festival, which was one of the first events in Ohio to be canceled last month, the Arts Festival poses health risks not just because of its crowds but also of its reach. This year’s slate would have brought artists from 38 states and four countries.

GCAC says all of them have an open invitation to next year’s festival.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision, and heartbreaking for all of us, because this is really, the festival is a labor of love, and we know how much the people of Columbus look forward to is as sort of the welcome to summer event," Goldstein says. "But it’s just the right thing to do.

The GCAC is shifting its focus to planning for 2021’s festival. Despite this year’s cancellation, event sponsors like AEP, Huntington Bank, and CoverMyMeds are leaving their contributions in place.

WOSU Public Media is one of the sponsors of the Columbus Arts Festival.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.