The 2020 Forest of Reading Festival, the largest literary event for young readers in Canada, has been cancelled, the organization announced on March 6. Organizers attributed the decision to cancel the southern Ontario event to low ticket sales, influenced by the ongoing Ontario teacher’s strike.
“Due to the challenges and uncertainties faced in the Ontario education sector this school year, we recognize that schools have not been able to commit to external events,” festival director Meredith Tutching said in a statement. “And although the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has not been a main factor in our decision to cancel, we do recognize that the local situation may change between now and May.”
The Forest of Reading program, which invites students and adults to vote for their favourite book from a list of 10 across 10 different categories, will continue, with voting to take place in April. Tutching said that the festival is considering inviting authors and illustrators to participate in announcing the winners virtually.
The full statement and a list of frequently asked questions, including how to obtain a refund, are posted on the festival’s website.
Important Update Regarding the 2020 #ForestofReadingFestival: Please be advised that the @ONLibraryAssoc has made the very difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Forest of Reading Festivals. We ask that you please read our full update here: https://t.co/vGizOg2v6X pic.twitter.com/Wf2KC0AXIa
— Forest of Reading (@ForestofReading) March 6, 2020