The Hyde Park Garden Fair Committee has cancelled the event, scheduled for May 15-16, on what would have been its 61st year.
Fair organizers make trips beyond Chicagoland to secure plants for the spring fair, which organizer George Rumsey said cannot be done safely amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"The days before the Fair opens involves dozens of volunteers unloading trucks and pricing and organizing the plants; it would be impossible to arrange social distancing under such circumstances," he said.
Furthermore, many committee members are in at-risk groups, whether because of age or health conditions. "It's difficult to imagine how we could ask volunteers to sit at tables and add up the purchases or cashiers to sit in the checkout tent and accept payments," Rumsey said.
The committee decided postponing to the summer would be impossible, because it would be too late to plant vegetables and herbs. It would be logistically impossible to store hundreds of pots and deliver them if the fair were held virtually.
"So it just seemed wise to cancel for the spring, and hope we can perhaps do a somewhat expanded Fall Fair (assuming that it is deemed safe to do so)," Rumsey said.
The fall event, scheduled for Sept. 12, offers bulbs, perennials, house plants and mums for sale.
Jane Ciacci, another organizer, said the fair has "been the highlight of my community involvement since 2005," when she first volunteered.
"The fair brings our community together every year; each of us treasures the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones, while talking about gardening. That's something all of us will miss very much this year," she said. "However, the health and safety of our customers, volunteers, workers and ourselves is paramount this year."