LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Originally postponed until August and September, Kentucky Derby Festival anchor events Thunder Over Louisville, the miniMarathon and the Pegasus Parade all have now been canceled.
“With an abundance of caution, Festival organizers have made the difficult decision not to produce their traditional large-scale events," KDF officials said in a statement Thursday, citing fears over the continued spread of the coronavirus.
The miniMarathon also has been canceled.
“As an organization that always puts public health and safety first, we know it would not be responsible for the Kentucky Derby Festival to put on events that attract crowds with not just hundreds, but hundreds of thousands of people,” Kentucky Derby Festival President and CEO Matt Gibson said. “This has been a difficult and emotional decision for our staff and board, but we believe it is the best one based on these unprecedented circumstances.”
The KDF statement said that more than half of its operating budget comes from corporate sponsorship, but because of the global health crisis, there were fears over a potential shortfall of funding and other resources.
“The Kentucky Derby Festival’s mission has always been to bring the community together in celebration. We hope to still find ways we can do that even if we’re apart," Gibson said.
Festival officials said they continue to explore other options, including smaller scale or virtual events, and other Derby-themed promotions.
This year marks the 65th year for the Kentucky Derby Festival, but will be the first time in its history that its traditional schedule of events has not been held in the spring.