Dover’s African American Festival canceled over virus concerns

DOVER — For the first time in its 29-year history, the 2020 “Positively Dover” African American Festival has been canceled due to concerns over the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The event, which was set for June 27, has become a tradition on Legislative Mall in Dover each year on the fourth Sunday in June, bringing with it the food, music and culture of the African-American community.

“We held off as long as we could but you don’t want to put anybody in danger or make people feel uncomfortable or just not have any turnout at all because of people still being really nervous even if they do open everything back up by then. So we’ll just plan for next year,” said Kathrina Stroud, executive director of the Sankofa Inner City Cultural League, producers of the African American Festival.

Ms. Stroud said they may try to do some sort of online event but plans have not been finalized.

“We’re just trying to think of things we can do to keep in touch with our members and the people who support us,” said Ms. Stroud, who is the daughter of event founder Reuben Salters.

“We don’t want people to think we have gone away or we’re not doing anything at all.”

Ms. Stroud said the festival is a summer event that will be certainly missed this year.

“People always look forward to it. It’s always a nice day with family and friends with good food in a family environment,” she said.

She added that festival organizers were keeping close tabs on the situation before finally making the hard decision.

“We were watching how things were going and I saw in the paper that the governor was talking about possibly opening up things up only if certain things happen. So we just decided to cancel this year,” she said.

“Yes, we’re all gonna be ready to attend events. But will we be ready to go to large gatherings and is it even a good idea?”

This will mark an inauspicious first for the festival.

“It’s never been canceled,” Ms. Stroud said.

“One year prior to us being on Legislative Mall (in the mid-90s), we were on the area near Mirror Lake and it flooded and we thought we would have to cancel. But we just moved it over to Legislative Mall and we’ve been over there ever since.

“We’ve been out there in thunderstorms and all kinds of weather. Usually what happens is it will rain a bit early and then the sun will come out. A couple of times we closed up early in the late afternoon because of pouring rain but that’s been it. So this is terribly disappointing.”

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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