Organizers say they made the decision after the World Health Organization declared the current COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic on Wednesday.
“After conducting a thorough risk assessment as recommended by the Public Health Agency of Canada, the committee came to the difficult but unanimous decision of cancelling the festival,” chair Doug McLean said in a message posted to the festival’s website on Wednesday night.
“The decision made tonight, ultimately, it comes down to public safety,” he said.
Thousands were expected to attend the event, which was supposed to take place on April 4.
Now in its 56th year, it is a fundraiser that supports Elmira and Waterloo Region.
“Our direction is now focused on new ways to support the Elmira community and Waterloo Region this year, as we have always focused on when planning the festival,” McLean said.
The announcement comes on the heels of a pair of tech conferences also pulling the plug on their events.
On Tuesday, Communitech announced it was cancelling its the True North Festival, while organizers of Fluxible also made a similar announcement.
Both events were to take place over the first week of June.