New Bedford's Family Fun Festival Carnival & Circus, known as the Whaling City Festival, has been postponed until after Labor Day, event organizer Michael Sylvia told WBSM News today.

The news came moments after Mayor Jon Mitchell announced that all events in the city with more than ten people in attendance – and that need a city permit – would be canceled through Labor Day to protect public health through the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I'm cautiously optimistic," Sylvia said of holding the event in the fall. "We're trying to do the right thing for the community."

The 2020 Whaling City Festival had been set for July 9-12 at Buttonwood Park.

Sylvia said he plans to stay in touch with Mitchell, and to keep an eye on state and local COVID-19 restrictions before settling on a date. He said the situation should come into better focus in four to six weeks.

"If it's safe, we really want to hold the event," he said. "It's part of the city's identity."

The Whaling City Festival, now a registered non-profit organization, got its start in 1970, Sylvia said. In recent years, it was organized by the New Bedford Police Union, but in 2019, the union said it would no longer take on that responsibility.

Sylvia, who had organized the event before, almost immediately took the reins again. Silvia, an EMT, began volunteering at the festival in 1995 when he was 13 years old.

"It's an all volunteer effort," he said.

Many other major feasts, festivals, parades and fairs across the SouthCoast region have scrapped their summer plans during the pandemic.

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