Missouri children’s book fest canceled over coronavirus fear
More than 3,500 elementary school children were set to converge on the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg next week for the annual Children’s Literature Festival, until, for the first time in its 52 years, the event was canceled.
With escalating reports of coronavirus and its impact on air travel, eight of the 28 invited guest speakers told festival organizers they had opted not to attend, a university statement said. Several other scheduled speakers “expressed that their attendance was unlikely.”
The festival, which gave children in grades three through 10 the opportunity to meet children’s book authors and illustrators from around the country, was set to run March 1517.
“Scheduling and logistic challenges posed by losing the guest speakers were considered too significant to provide the type of quality event the university strives to produce every year for the benefit of young Missouri readers,” the university statement said.
The university is not planning to reschedule the event this year.
Authors who had been scheduled to attend included Kathi Appelt (“The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp”), Gary Schmidt (“Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy”) and Ronald L. Smith (“Hoodoo”).
The literature festival joins many other events around the country and the world canceled due to fear of spreading the virus, including concerts, conferences and sporting events.