After seeing other conferences and festivals canceled or postponed because of the coronavirus, the organizers of the NoCo Hemp Expo are rescheduling their annual event for August.
The expo, which organizers say is the hemp industry’s largest gathering, was scheduled March 26-28 at the Renaissance Denver Stapleton Hotel and the National Western Complex. The locations will be the same, but the dates are now Aug. 6-8.
Morris Beegle, the expo’s co-founder, said Tuesday that organizers earlier issued a statement saying they planned to stick to the original date.
“But as it unfolded, it was looking like this was going to get pretty ugly,” Beegle said.
A second conference planned at the Colorado Convention Center has been canceled because of the spread of the contagious coronavirus, which has sickened people and shut down activities worldwide. The American Academy of Dermatology was set to meet March 20-24, but according to a post on its website, the organization decided to call off the annual meeting because many participants couldn’t make it because of travel bans by several institutions. Nearly 19,000 people were expected to attend.
On Saturday, the American Physical Society nixed its conference because of concern about the escalating coronavirus outbreak.
Rich Carollo, director of sales and marketing at the Colorado Convention, said Tuesday that he hadn’t heard of any other cancellations.
Denver city leaders did call off the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade because of the coronavirus. The parade was planned Saturday downtown.
Beegle said he had been monitoring what other festivals were doing to decide how to proceed with the hemp convention, which draws business and agriculture representatives as well as advocates. The South by Southwest festival held every year in Austin, Texas, was canceled last week after the city’s mayor declared an emergency related to coronavirus.
Then, Beegle and Steven Hoffman, who handles marketing for NoCo Hemp, were in Anaheim, Calif., last week for the Natural Products Expo West when they got word that it was postponed for a later date.
“I saw from ground zero how those things unfolded,” Beegle said. “I learned from what they did last week. It’s just a cascading effect.”
There will be financial fallout, Beegle said. A lot of time and money went into publicizing the event and making arrangements.
“But first and foremost we want to provide a safe atmosphere,” Beegle said.
NoCo Hemp posted news of its postponement Monday, a day before Gov. Jared Polis declared a state of emergency in Colorado to deal with the spreading coronavirus.
There are now 15 total cases of the highly infectious coronavirus in Colorado. The first two cases were announced March 5.