4th Fest, Festival of the Arts 2020, other events canceled due to COVID-19 concerns

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WTAJ) — Happy Valley Adventure Bureau President and CEO Fritz Smith led a Zoom news conference Friday at which organizers of Central PA 4th Fest, Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, People’s Choice Festival, and Philipsburg Heritage Days, announced the mutual decision to cancel their respective events as a result of lingering COVID-19 impacts and concerns.

This will be the first time in the event’s 54-year history that the Festival of Arts will not take place in July.

Organizers – who agreed early on to make the decision as a group – said the logistics of continued planning within a fluid environment, along with uncertainties about the status of large group gatherings by mid-summer were the driving factors behind the decisions.

Festival staff will turn their attention to presenting artists and musicians in a “virtual festival” in early July. As events for the “virtual festival” are scheduled, they will be listed on the Festival’s website.

The board made the decision after consultation with officials at the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Borough of State College, and Penn State.

“We know these decisions were extremely difficult to make,” said HVAB President and CEO Fritz Smith. “They are equally as difficult for local residents, participants and visitors who look forward to these events year after year to absorb. However, they were necessary decisions. Our community will remain resilient as we celebrate perhaps a little bit differently this year.”

Rick Bryant, Executive Director of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, said organizers remained hopeful to be able to proceed with this year’s event, which draws more than 100,000 people to downtown State College. However, after thorough discussion and guidance from state and local officials, Bryant said it became clear that the best course of action was to cancel.

People’s Choice Festival Co-Directors John Madison and Cindy Rockey said after a great deal of consideration, the committee made the decision to cancel this year’s event, due, of course, to continuing concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

Jim Pollock, President and Committee Chair of Philipsburg Heritage Days, said the closure of schools for the academic year impacted the festival parade and festival, which serves as a community homecoming.

Pollock said since Philipsburg Heritage Days runs the same time that three other events happen in Centre County, organizers felt it was prudent to participate with the others in making a collective decision.

State College Spikes General Manager and Chair of the HVAB Marketing Committee Scott Walker offered that while he is saddened that The Central PA 4th Fest, People’s Choice Festival, Philipsburg Heritage Days and the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts will be cancelled for 2020, he joins in applauding organizers for keeping the public health of the community at the forefront where it belongs.

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