THE 150th Bendigo Easter Fair has been postponed until 2021.
The decision comes in the wake of advice to cancel non-essential mass gatherings, issued earlier today.
Planning for the milestone event was still going "full steam ahead" earlier this week.
But Bendigo Easter Fair Society president Simon Mulqueen had said the society would follow the direction of the government in the best interest of the community's wellbeing.
Mr Mulqueen and the City of Greater Bendigo today confirmed the 150th event would be postponed.
Moving the event until another weekend was discussed, but was not deemed appropriate.
"The Bendigo Easter Festival needs to happen at Easter. It would not be the same at any other time and we would not want to condense such a special anniversary into just a weekend," Mr Mulqueen said.
"I know many people have worked hard but all is not lost, we'll just continue to channel our efforts into preparing for our 150th anniversary celebrations to take place in 2021."
The Easter Fair Society has been planning the 150th event for five years.
Mr Mulqueen was hopeful the authorities might come up with a scheme to reimburse event organisers affected by the advice for mass gatherings, in time. But the immediate priority was people's health.
He said people would be disappointed the festival had been postponed. But everyone Mr Mulqueen had spoken to had understood the decision.
He said all of the festival stakeholders had agreed this year's event ought to be cancelled, following the advice Australia's Chief Medical Officer, Prime Minister and the Victorian Premier had issued.
It was recommended all non-essential organised mass gatherings of more than 500 people be cancelled, effective from Monday.
"Once the Grand Prix was cancelled, I think the writing was on the wall," Mr Mulqueen said.
Bendigo is believed to have staged an Easter festival every year for 149 years, enduring during times of war and inclement weather.
"We're still one of the oldest community festivals in Australia," Mr Mulqueen said.
He said the event's organisers didn't want people to be disheartened about Easter.
While Mr Mulqueen was sure the festival's cancellation would have an effect on the local economy, he said there was no reason for people not to visit Bendigo.
"Bendigo is not shutting down for Easter. There is plenty still to see and do," he said.
He said it was a beautiful time to be in the city.
"Support the local community - that's what we have to do," Mr Mulqueen said.
He suspected people would be back for next year's festival, and in bigger numbers.
"Just look forward to 2021," Mr Mulqueen said.
City of Greater Bendigo strategy and growth director Bernie O'Sullivan thanked all those involved in planning this year's event for their hard work and commitment.
He said the city would work with stakeholders on how best to manage the 2020 festival's cancellation.
The festival was an event Mr O'Sullivan said the city didn't take for granted. He said the city appreciated its contribution to the social fabric of the community, its economy, and its history, especially coming into its 150th year.
"We are extremely disappointed to be making this announcement, as we are famous for the Bendigo Easter Festival," Mr O'Sullivan said.
"It is a major event for our city and there are many thousands of residents and visitors that make the festival a tradition they enjoy each year.
"However, we also understand and respect today's advice from Australia's Chief Medical Officer and we have a responsibility to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of everyone who would have come to, participated in or worked at the festival in some way."
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