This year's Milwaukee Irish Fest has been canceled in response to the coronavirus pandemic, organizer Celtic MKE announced late Tuesday.
The annual celebration of Irish culture and heritage was scheduled for Aug. 13 to 16 at the Henry Maier Festival Park on Milwaukee's lakefront. It's the first cancelation in the event's 35-year history, and the city's first August event to be canceled due to the coronavirus.
Celtic MKE said the decision was made five months in advance to "help mitigate the growing challenges of the significant planning and upfront logistics" to put on a successful event. “We don’t take this decision lightly, but our main priority is the safety and health of our community, patrons, and volunteers,” said Mike Mitchell, executive director of CelticMKE. “To be fair to all of those involved in the planning process, including our partners, vendors, and entertainers, we needed to make this decision sooner rather than later.” Milwaukee Irish Fest is slated to return next year, Aug. 19 to 22.
Those who have already purchased tickets for this year's festival are asked to either transfer their admission to the 2021 festival, donate their ticket back to Irish Fest, or receive a full refund.
The Milwaukee Irish Fest Summer School, which is annually held the week prior to the festival, is also canceled.
As of April 21, 53 events (not including Irish Fest) in the Milwaukee area have been canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, according to VISIT Milwaukee's running list of confirmed cancellations and postponements.
August's event calendar has so far remained in tact, with the Microscopy & Microanalysis 2020 Meeting, Aug. 2 to 6; USA Triathlon’s Age Group National Championships, Aug. 7 to 9; Northwestern Mutual’s Annual Meeting, Aug. 9 to 12; and Wisconsin State Fair, Aug. 6 to 16. In addition, the 2020 Democratic National Convention was recently rescheduledfor the week of August 17.
But it's unclear whether the city will be able to handle large events by the time August roles around. Under Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers' “Badger Bounce Back,” a plan outlining criteria for the state to begin a phased reopening, gatherings of more than 50 people won't be permitted until the third and final phase.
The order requires a 14-day decline in new COVID-19 cases before the state could resume normal operations.
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