One of the state oldest festivals — the 135-year-old Neavill’s Grove Old Settlers Meeting — has decided to take a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has already claimed the 70th Madison Regatta and the Jefferson County 4-H Fair both in July, Swiss Wine Festival in August and several other summer staples of the Courierarea.

“We just hate it but we just decided to cancel this year at our Grove Meeting on Monday,” said the group’s president Ginger Sexton. “Everybody is just afraid of the virus. People are still dying. The State Fair is gone, the Jefferson County Fair is gone, the Regatta is gone and now us.”

Sexton said the fact that most of the group is older — the most vulnerable age group to the coronavirus — and the likelihood that crowds would be down anyhow, forced the group’s hand. She said the organization will miss the money raised by the annual meeting when it struggles to pay insurance and utilities next winter but the hope is that there is enough cash on hand to weather those months, bounce back with a fundraiser in the spring and the return of the event in the summer of 2021.

The Old Settler’s meeting dates back to 1885 and none of the membership — Sexton said the youngest are in their 70s — can remember a year when the meeting did not take place the last weekend in August. That 135 years of tradition is a bitter pill to swallow.

“We’re devastated,” Sexton said. “We considered all options but this was the safest thing for our members and guests. Most of us are older. I’m 73 and I’m one of the youngest ... we’re going to have to really hustle in the spring to make sure we are back next summer. We all love the Old Grove. We love the tranquility and the fellowship.”

The Old Settlers Meeting wasn’t the only local festival to bow out this week. Although with a fraction of the history, OVO La Casa Amiga’s 20th Annual Hispanic Cultural Awareness Day is annually one of the most colorful and well-attended events of the summer. The group also decided to cancel this year’s event on Sept. 19 for similar reasons.

Centered annually around the historic Broadway Fountain in Madison, the event was always a party of music, dancing, food and fellowship.

“There are so many facets to the festival that are people oriented that it would be impossible to do social distancing and have all the protection in place to truly carry out our purpose of the festival, which is to promote awareness of the diversity of Hispanic Cultures through educational country booths, various dance groups, paid musical entertainment, food from various countries, the physical presences of representatives from our local schools, colleges and public library and social contact with people who talk about culture aspects of the various countries,” said a statement released by the group.

The group plans to be back on Sept. 18, 2021 and make that event “truly special.”

In order to help make that happen, donations for the 2021 event are being accepted in the name of Hispanic Cultural Awareness Day in care of Shirley Kloepfer, 2045 Ridgewood Lane, Madison, IN 47250.