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For the second time in its nearly 50-year history, An Occasion for the Arts has been canceled.
Planners said the decision, announced late Thursday afternoon, was a difficult one but necessary in the face of the threat of severe flooding this weekend thanks to two storm fronts simultaneously impacting the Historic Triangle.
“The safety of our displaying and performing artists, volunteers and the public must always be our primary consideration,” Stuart Honenberger, president of AOFTA’s Board of Directors, said in a news release.
AOFTA was scheduled to take place Saturday and Sunday in Merchants Square.
Since it began in 1969, An Occasion for Arts has weathered many rainy days. The festival, which always takes place the first weekend in October, has only suffered one previous cancellation: then a one-day event, AOFTA was rained out on a Sunday in 1976.
Though event planners met several times over the days leading up to the announcement to discuss the possibility of rescheduling the event, ultimately that course of action was not possible for an event of AOFTA’s size.
“While it would be desirable to attempt to move the show to an indoor venue or change the dates there are many factors that limit our flexibility,” Honenberger said. “The schedules of 140 displaying artists, 30 performing artists, 6 restaurants and countless volunteers alone make the task difficult. But the significant infrastructure logistics and costs make it not feasible for our all volunteer organization to successfully alter the location or date of the show.”
Though visitors will miss the festive atmosphere of the event, they still have an opportunity to view the works of all of the artists who were planning to participate on AOFTA’s website.
Honenberger and other event planners are hopeful the enthusiasm and support generated for this year’s event will carry into next year.
“We look forward to returning to the streets the first weekend of October (1st & 2nd) in 2016 for a fantastic show,” Honenberger said.