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Chicago Blues Festival 2017
Photograph: Max Herman

Chicago Blues Fest, House Music Fest and Gospel Music Fest have been canceled

DCASE pulled the plug on all of its May and June programming, including the Memorial Day Parade

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long

We knew it was coming when Governor J.B. Pritzker started talking about the viability of large summer events, but that doesn't make it hurt any less: This morning Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events announced that all of its May and June programming has been canceled, including the Chicago Blues Festival (June 5–7), the Chicago House Music Conference & Festival (May 21–24), the Chicago Gospel Music Festival (May 27–30) and the Memorial Day Parade and Wreath Laying Ceremony (May 23).

The cancelation also puts the kibosh on Chicago In Tune, an 18-day celebration of live music throughout the city (May 21–June 7) that was to be the centerpiece of the Year of Chicago Music initiative. Because of the cancelation of the 2020 editions of Blues Fest, Gospel Fest and House Music Fest, Mayor Lori Lightfoot will extend the Year of Chicago Music into 2021.

"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 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."

A press release announcing the festival cancelations notes that "The cancellation of these specific DCASE-run festivals is not official City guidance for other event producers." However, it's difficult to imagine that organizers of street and music festivals throughout the city (especially those scheduled to take place during May and June) won't follow suit. Major events in May and June that have not yet been canceled or postponed include the Spring Awakening Music Festival in Union Park (June 12–14), the Chicago Pride Parade (June 28), Mayfest in Lincoln Park (May 29–30) and Mole de Mayo in Pilsen (May 24–26). Last week, Do Division, Andersonville Midsommarfest and Taste of Randolph all pulled the plug on their 2020 events.

Major Chicago events and festivals that take place later in the summer still seem to be monitoring the evolving situation and contemplating their options. Last week, Lollapalooza organizers revealed that they hope to "make a definitive decision about the path forward by the end of May." Similarly, on March 13, Pitchfork Music Festival organizers released a statement that read, "We are still planning on throwing a great festival for you all July 17-19, 2020 in Chicago," while acknowledging that industry, city and health officials were being consulted about the logistics of holding the event.

We're continuing to keep a close watch on events and festivals as organizers adjust their plans for this summer. Head to our Chicago event cancelations list for the latest updates.

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