KETCHIKAN (KDN) —  Due to COVID-19 concerns and current safety recommendations, the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council announced Wednesday on social media that the 45th Annual Blueberry Arts Festival would be canceled this year.

The festival, which has never before been canceled, was set to take place on the weekend of Aug. 1.

In a Facebook post Wednesday, KAAHC Executive Director Kathleen Light wrote that "the decision about what to do this year was no small task."

Light said that the KAAHC communicated with registered booth holders to reach a decision.

"Based on the feedback we have received from our booth holders, and the recent exposure to our community of the COVID-19 virus, we have decided to cancel the Blueberry Arts Festival for the first time ever," Light wrote in the Facebook post. "We are aware of the impact of this decision, but the health and safety of our community must come first."

Some elements of the festival will still be open for participation, such as the "online mug shot beard and mustache contest."

Prizes for this contest will be awarded in the categories of "wild man," "most artistic," and "people's choice."

Submissions for the contest must be emailed to the KAAHC by July 24. Winners will be posted online on Aug. 3.

Additionally, Blueberry Arts Festival merchandise will still be available, including T-shirts, stickers and face coverings. These items will be available for purchase beginning July 1.

The Blueberry Arts Festival art exhibit will be open for in-person viewing at the Main Street Gallery on July 31. The opening reception will be held from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. The extended hours are to allow for increased physical distancing and safety protocols.

Art displayed in the exhibit may be purchased online.

The deadline for participating in the exhibit is 5 p.m. on July 24.

The social media post stated that the "45th Annual Blueberry Arts Festival part deux" will be held next year.