Southern Festivals has canceled the second annual St. Patrick's Day Festival in downtown Athens due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
The free festival was scheduled to take place on Saturday, March 14. Organizers canceled the event in the interest of public safety after consulting with local officials over the spread of COVID-19, Southern Festivals said. The cancellation was announced in the festival’s Facebook event listing and confirmed with The Red & Black.
The coinciding pub crawl spanning nine bars in Athens has not been canceled as of press time. Southern Festivals confirmed all of the participating bars and restaurants will remain open on Saturday.
Festival organizers announced it will take "every precaution to insure [sic] public safety" due to coronavirus concerns on the festival’s Facebook event listing on March 11. These measures included providing hand-washing and sanitizing stations throughout the festival.
Nine performers were scheduled on the festival lineup, including Carpenter Academy of Irish Dance in Athens, local alternative band Everyday Dogs, country musician Megan Moroney and Celtic band Green Flag Band, among others.
Everyday Dogs were not informed directly by festival organizers that the event was canceled. Collectively, the band said they were not surprised by the cancellation.
“We’re not overly butthurt about it,” said vocalist Julian Inglima. “It’s very understandable — we obviously want to play music and we’re bummed, but if there were any excuse to not play a show, this would be it.”
The cancellation is not presenting any major logistical setbacks for Everyday Dogs, though it is putting the band in a tough financial spot. The band is trying to fund an album at the moment, and increased cancellations are making it “really tough” to put money back into the project, Inglima said.
Bassist Tyler Griffith noted the peculiarity of the festival organizers' sudden change in sentiment.
“I thought it was weird, [organizers'] transition between seeming confident and prepared to know in a short amount of time,” Griffith said. “I thought that was interesting — why their sentiment changed that quickly. But it was a change of sentiment for the entire world for the last 48 hours.”