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Gospel Music Festival, Blues Festival, Memorial Day Parade Canceled Due To COVID-19

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Nearly two weeks after Gov. JB Pritzker said organizers need to "think seriously about canceling large summer events," city officials have canceled a handful of summer festivals due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuesday morning, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) announced four popular events in late May and early June are being canceled:

  • The 4th annual Chicago House Music Conference & Festival, scheduled for May 21-24;
  • The Chicago Memorial Day Parade and Wreath Laying Ceremony, scheduled for May 23;
  • The 35th annual Chicago Gospel Music Festival, scheduled for May 27-30;
  • The 37th annual Chicago Blues Festival, scheduled for June 5-7.

City officials said they would offer digital content and virtual concerts in lieu of the canceled music festivals.

"These cancellations are disappointing to all of us here in Chicago, particularly for the countless individuals who worked so hard to organize an extraordinary Year of Chicago Music," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. "Nonetheless, these difficult but necessary steps were taken in order to ensure the health and safety of our residents and visitors, which continues to be our utmost priority throughout the COVID-19 crisis. As upsetting as it is to remove these events from our calendar, we are already looking forward to next year where we'll be pulling out all the stops for a festival season Chicago will never forget."

DCASE also said the city-run farmers markets, which had been set to begin on May 7, are being postponed until at least May 15. The Maxwell Street Market also will remain closed through May 15.

Programs and events at Millennium Park, the Chicago Cultural Center, the Clarke House Museum, Expo 72, and the City Gallery in the Historic Water Tower also are canceled through May 15 while those locations remain closed to the public.

The Chicago Film Office also will not issue permits for filming through May 16, and the city will not issue special event permits for parades, sporting events, or neighborhood festivals through May 15.

The Year of Chicago Music, a celebration of the city's thriving music industry which had been scheduled to run through the end of the year, will be extended into 2021, specifically with the return of the House Music Festival, Gospel Music Festival, and Blues Festival.

The city said plans for other summer events remain under review.

Given the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the city's arts community, city officials encouraged people to donate to the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund, which will provide financial aid to workers and organizations in the creative industries.



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