The Earl Warren Showgrounds has cancelled all events through the end of March because of the coronavirus pandemic, most notably the 75th Annual Santa Barbara International Orchid Show.
Showgrounds CEO Ben Sprague said the Governor’s Office sent fair managers a request to postpone or cancel all non-essential indoor or outdoor gatherings over 250 people on Wednesday.
“The state’s public health experts have determined that gatherings should be postponed or cancelled across the state until at least the end of March,” the letter read.
“Gatherings of individuals who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should be limited to no more than 10 people, while also following social distancing guidelines.”
The Orchid Show board voted to cancel the show Thursday morning. They will not reschedule, the show will return in 2021.
Mr. Sprague will reassess closure at the end of the month, as the State, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Santa Barbara County officials release more information.
“At this point information is evolving so rapidly hour to hour. We were talking about it seriously (Wednesday) and we’ve thought about this (closure) potentially happening for a little while,” said Mr. Sprague.
“We’ll be evaluating it as this month unfolds and try to make the best decisions for our local community.”
The showgrounds closure cancelled the Jordano’s Food and Equipment Show, a car sales show and a handful of private events.
The Showgrounds scheduled the Santa Barbara Fair and Expo to run April 29 to May 3. Mr. Sprague said the Showgrounds may cancel the fair.
Santa Maria and Ventura fairgrounds have also chosen to close through the end of March, Mr. Sprague said.
He continued that he has not decided how he will handle refunds for the cancelled events.
“We’ll work out the details of our individual contracts with all vendors when we are sort of set and done dealing with immediate navigation of the moment. Our goal is to help everybody out, hopefully they can all be rescheduled,” said Mr. Sprague.
Orchids Show Manager Nancy Melekian said the board hoped to make it through the weekend, but the Governor’s Office request convinced them to call off the show.
Ms. Melekian said the show will refund all pre-purchased tickets. For more information, contact Leigh-Anne Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It was a hard decision and we’re very sad. We have vendors coming in from San Diego, LA, and overseas. This is the best time for orchids, so we’re not able to postpone the show to say September. It wouldn’t make sense,” said Melekian. She added that so far all the international vendors can return home.
The orchid show should have begun today. Vendors were already packing up elaborate orchid displays on Thursday afternoon.
Casa De Las Orquideas of Solana Beach and The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens of San Marino were among the first to break down their booths.