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Organizers cite coronavirus scare in putting an end to the April 17-18 event at the cultural center

GRAPHIC FILE PHOTO - The annual Newberg Camellia Festival at the Chehalem Cultural Center drew thousands to witness such events as the bloom contest (above) and a variety of musical acts, most centered on Japanese traditions.

Chehalem Cultural Center officials announced Friday that the 12th edition of the Newberg Camellia Festival, set for April 17-18, will be canceled this year.

"We are so sad to have to cancel this special event that brings the community together and our thoughts go out to everyone during this difficult time," festival co-chairpersons Brian Stewart and Carissa Burkett said.

According to a statement released by the CCC, the decision centered on concerns for the health and safety of the community.

It was also precipitated by Gov. Kate Brown's edict last week banning gatherings of 250 people or more. The festival typically draws thousands of people to the CCC to witness a variety of events ranging from blossom competitions to music in the grand ballroom.

"The Camellia Festival is the biggest day of our year and an annual tradition we cherish; we do not make this decision lightly," the release said. "It saddens us to miss out on all the festivities of the day, but the safety and well-being of our community is our highest priority. Rest assured, the festival will return next year and will be better than ever."

Burkett said the decision was made Friday after a number of meetings and "a close following of statewide mandates and safety measures."

She added that the decision was made by leadership at the CCC and from within the Chehalem Park and Recreation District, who owns the cultural center building.

The festival typically draws around 5,000 people to the CCC, with more anticipated this year due to increasing the event to two days.

While not strictly within Brown's edict, the decision to cancel was ultimately to local authorities to make.

"The festival actually falls outside of the 30-day ban that Gov. Brown mandates on events of 250 in attendance or larger, but our leadership believes that moving forward with this event that is only a few weeks after the ban would not be a wise decision for the health and safety of our community," Burkett said.

The CCC has successfully communicated the cancellation with "all of the participants of the festival and everyone is very saddened," she said, "but also very understanding."

Arts & Leisure briefs

Gallery theater will premier 'Proof' on Friday

McMINNVILLE – Gallery Theater will begin nine performances of "Proof" on March 20 with Friday and Saturday shows set for 7:30 p.m. and matinees at 2 p.m. on Sundays.

Written by David Auburn and directed by Marla Nuttman, the play follows Catherine (played by Linnea Rusaw), a troubled young woman who has spent years caring for her brilliant but unstable father (played by Tim Jaeger), who is a famous mathematician. Following his death she must deal with her own volatile emotions, the arrival of her estranged sister and the attentions of a former student of her father's who hopes to find valuable work in the hundreds of mathematics notebooks her father left behind.

The performances are recommended for ages 13 and older.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $16 for students and seniors. They may be purchased online at www.gallerytheater.org or call 503-472-2227.


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