It is with heavy hearts that we write to let you know that we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Virginia Festival of the Book.
In an announcement on March 8, the University strongly discouraged all travel for non-essential purposes, particularly that by air, to large gatherings, and to areas experiencing high numbers of COVID-19 cases, asking that members of the community apply similar judgment in considering personal travel commitments. Though there has not been a case of COVID-19 on Grounds or in the greater Charlottesville community, at this time, the Virginia Department of Health has confirmed five cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth.
At its core, the Festival is a community event that brings together writers and readers from across the country and around the world. As such, we are committed to prioritizing and protecting the wellbeing of our community, as well as visiting speakers and attendees. In the rapidly evolving public health situation, where much is still unknown about the coronavirus, we do not feel that it is an acceptable risk to hold the 2020 Festival as planned. Unfortunately, given the way we operate, it is also not possible for the Festival to be rescheduled.
While the Festival is not inexpensive to produce, we understand that the costs of canceling are great as well. We ask that you please consider purchasing books (from local booksellers) by authors whose programs you were hoping to attend. Further, we will do our best to share information in the future about local events with authors who had been previously scheduled to speak at this year’s event.
We are currently working through many other implications of this cancelation, and will continue to post information here.
In closing, we appreciate your understanding and ongoing support, though we know this decision holds a good deal of disappointment for us all.
Virginia Festival of the Book staff