Every spring for the past 23 years, birders have converged on Detroit Lakes for its annual Festival of Birds.

But not this year. The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused organizers to cancel the event for 2020.

"Festival of Birds committee chairs agreed that we could not risk the health of participants by holding the event," said Detroit Lakes Tourism Director Cleone Stewart, who is one of the principal organizers for the annual event, which had been scheduled for May 14-16.

"Birders come from Minnesota and neighboring states, as well as from across the country," she continued. "Although birding in the field allows social distancing, that isn’t doable on buses to get to the sites, or at social events. Likewise, some of the venues would not be open to hold our evening presentations."

Notice of the cancellation was made official on the Festival of Birds page at the Detroit Lakes Chamber of Commerce website.

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"As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop, the Festival of Birds committee has determined that for everyone's safety the event will not be held in 2020," read the notice. "You would have enjoyed our super line up of Neil Hayward, Carrol Henderson, Al Batt and Greg Hoch as well as the field trips planned in May."

The page included a link to sign up for updates on next year's festival as they become available.

Stewart also noted that concerns over the potential spread of COVID-19 have prompted another Detroit Lakes event to be taken off the calendar as well.

"Race Director Donny Lick and I visited about the Quake the Lake Powerboat Races and Antique Boat Show scheduled for late June," Stewart said. "We have decided to postpone the event. In all likelihood, it will be canceled for 2020."