One by one the ongoing coronavirus has claimed every big community event and festival in the area until Thursday, when two of the biggest and most successful events in Madison — the Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art and Madison Ribberfest — both pulled the plug on the same day.

Organizers of both events have been waiting and watching COVID-19 data and local, state and regional attempts to control the spread of the virus over the past several months hoping that the pandemic would subside enough to provide a safe window of opportunity to hold their events.

First the June River Jam was canceled in March, then the July Madison Regatta and Roostertail Music Festival was postponed in April and later the July Jefferson County 4-H Fair fell in May. Rather than cancel outright, Ribberfest opted to scale back to a one-day music festival with crowd limitations but in the end even that wasn’t enough to provide a safe enough environment for spectators, volunteers and those who would work at the venue.

The Chautauqua announced its plans to postpone until 2021 on Thursday morning with the Ribberfest canceling its scaled back event about an hour later.

Chautauqua, a juried fine arts and crafts festival scheduled for Sept. 26-27, draws hundreds of artists and dozens of food vendors annually as about 40,000 guests descend on the streets of the historic neighborhoods where the event is held and throughout Madison.

“Our committee has continued to monitor the circumstances surrounding COVID-19. The health and safety of our artists, staff, volunteers and our community is our first priority, therefore, out of an abundance of caution, we have sadly reached a decision to cancel the 2020 Madison Chautauqua,” the group said today on its Facebook Page.

“Our committee is dedicated to our beloved festival and is eager to plan for 2021 and our 50th year celebration!

All artists will receive a full refund for booth fees. Jurying will roll over to 2021,” the statement said. “Please contact info@madisonchautauqua.com for any questions or concerns.”

Facing the same set of issues, Ribberfest ultimately decided that even a one-day music event on Aug. 21 was too risky for those involved and their guests. The festival is normally a two-day event drawing thousands to Bicentennial Park for blues music and barbecue.

“Our committee has remained very hopeful throughout the last few months that we would be able to have our event this year, albeit a bit differently than usual. Now that we are almost to August, and seeing that our local, statewide, and national positive COVID-19 cases are on the rise, we believe that it is in the best interest of our volunteers, patrons, and our entire community to cancel our event this year.” said Ribberfest Event Coordinator Katie Burress.

“It is unfortunate that we are having to make exceptionally difficult decisions this year. We have all been faced with impossible decisions throughout the last few months, and sadly, canceling Ribberfest this year is the best choice for us at this time,” said Visit Madison Inc. Board of Tourism President Cara Fox

Ribberfest will issue a refund to those who have already purchased 2020 wristbands with details to be posted on the group’s website or social media page.

The Ribberfest committee will move forward with “Pigmania,” — its concrete pig decorating contest that supports

the annual Madison Ribberfest Scholarship program — and can be seen around town in front of the participating

businesses and a list of businesses and directions for voting on the ‘People’s Choice’ Pig also will be shared soon.

The decision to cancel Chautauqua and Ribberfest in Madison follows similar actions taken in other neighboring communities. This year's Swiss Wine Festival in Vevay, Indiana, Apple Festival in Bedford, Kentucky, and the Pumpkin Show in Versailles, Indiana, have also been canceled — the first time since 1942-45 and World War II for the Pumpkin Show.