ITHACA, N.Y. — The Downtown Ithaca Alliance (DIA) has announced that its largest events — including the Apple Harvest Festival — will be canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Due to uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 pandemic and limitations on social gatherings, we’re forced to cancel these massive crowd-drawing events,” Scott Rougeau, DIA special events director, said. “We did not come to this decision lightly and we understand the impact of such a decision on the local economy, but we have to prioritize the safety and health of our community, vendors, staff, and volunteers.”

The other events not being held this year include Fashion Week, Welcome Student Weekend, Halloween on the Commons, Santa’s Arrival and Chowder Cook-Off. The DIA said that last year, these events brought in over 80,000 people to downtown.

Fashion Week was set to take place in April, but was postponed because of the pandemic. The rest of the events are usually held in the latter half of the year, and Rougeau said that DIA was hoping that conditions would have improved to be able to hold large events. As of July 21, Tompkins County has 33 active COVID-19 cases, a large spike from the single-digit numbers the county saw at the beginning of July.

Earlier in the summer, the organizers of the Ithaca Festival announced the event’s cancelation for this year after it was initially postponed to late August. The 30th annual Grassroots Festival was slated to take place this year as well, but was postponed to 2021. Instead, Your Roots at Home streamed musical performances over the course of four days. Porchfest, which usually happens in September, was also canceled this year. The organizers stated that they are hoping to have a virtual performance this year in its place.

Many events that were slated to take place over the summer have pivoted to virtual platforms. DIA’s CFCU Summer Concert Series has moved from performances on The Commons to live streamed concerts in light of the pandemic. The monthly Gallery Night also exhibits art in online galleries and hosts artist talks.

“We will return to live events when it is safe and responsible to do so,” Gary Ferguson, DIA executive director, said. “In the meantime, we will focus our efforts on recovery from the pandemic, assisting our existing businesses and attracting new entrepreneurs to our downtown.”

Madison Fernandez

Madison Fernandez is a contributing reporter at the Ithaca Voice. You can reach her by email at