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Pitchfork Music Festival 2017, neal o'bryan
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan

Governor Pritzker recommends that all summer festivals be canceled

The governor doesn't think it's a great idea to hold large events like Lollapalooza and Taste of Chicago this summer

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long

UPDATE: During a press conference on Friday, April 10, Mayor Lori Lightfoot addressed a question about summer event cancelations by saying, "I think it's too soon for us to talk about events that are happening in July and August." Governor J.B. Pritzker also clarified his statement about summer festival cancelations (outlined below) by saying, "I was merely suggesting that people should contemplate "what if?" because we need to follow what the scientists and doctors tell us."

ORIGINAL STORY: Near the end of his daily press conference this afternoon, Governor J.B. Pritzker made it clear that he doesn't think that large festivals and events like Lollapalooza and the Taste of Chicago should be held in the city (or elsewhere in Illinois) this summer. Responding to a question from a reporter, Pritzker stated, “I think everyone needs to think seriously about canceling large summer events. From my perspective today, I do not see how we are going to have large gatherings of people until we have a vaccine, which is months and months away.”

Gov. Pritzker's recommendation isn't entirely unexpected as Illinois and the nation continue to practice social distancing, which doesn't condone standing shoulder to shoulder with thousands of other people in the middle of a field while your favorite band is performing. That means that any event that draws a significant number of people—from smaller street festivals like Do Division and the 57th Street Art Fair to gigantic events like Lollapalooza and the Chicago Blues Festival—may need to postpone or reconsider hosting a 2020 edition altogether.

While major California music festival Coachella announced a move to October and New York's Governors Ball was canceled outright, Chicago events like Lollapalooza, Pitchfork Music Festival and Spring Awakening are, by all appearances, still planning on taking place this summer. Pitchfork Music Festival addressed the situation in an email on March 13 to past attendees, stating “we are still planning on throwing a great festival for you all July 17–19, 2020 in Chicago. We will continue to monitor as the industry, city, and health officials update large-event procedures, and we will implement and communicate those procedures to ticket-holders.” Likewise, Lollapalooza delayed the announcement of its lineup last month, but stated on social media that “While we stay in close contact with local officials, we are well underway with planning for Lolla to take place as soon as it’s safe for us all to be together in Grant Park.”

In the wake of Gov. Pritzker's comments on the situation (and with the beginning of Chicago's summer festival season just two months away), expect to see several announcements about the status of large summer events and festivals in the coming weeks. It seems likely that the city will be the first to pull the plug on its traditional lineup of summer events, including the Chicago Blues Festival, Taste of Chicago, the Millennium Park Summer Concert Series and the Chicago Air and Water Show. Whether events like Lollapalooza and Pitchfork decide to cancel or postpone to a later date remains to be seen, but Chicago's summer calendar will likely look quite sparse this year.

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