Alaska Folk Festival canceled for first time in 46-year history

A woman plays violin while another woman playing upright bass sings into a microphone in a television studio.Katie Klan and Angela Brock of the Homer band Burnt Down House perform a Red Carpet Concert at KTOO Public Media during the 2019 Alaska Folk Festival. (Photo by Annie Bartholomew/KTOO)
Katie Klan and Angela Brock of the Homer band Burnt Down House perform a Red Carpet Concert at KTOO Public Media during the 2019 Alaska Folk Festival. (Photo by Annie Bartholomew/KTOO)

After an emergency meeting on Thursday, Mar. 12, the Alaska Folk Festival’s Board of Directors has cancelled the event.

The board says they’re concerned about safety due to the COVID-19 virus. It’s the first time the festival has been cancelled in its nearly 46-year history.

In a letter, the festival’s Board President Ian Putnam wrote that the board has been consulting with the state and the City and Borough of Juneau. All agreed that the only “socially responsible” option was to cancel the event.

Vice-President Andrew Heist says that in searching for a silver lining, the board is proud to make this difficult decision early to help set an example for other organizations in similar situations.

The annual festival draws thousands of musicians and spectators to Juneau each year.

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