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Albany Cancels Festival After Mask Requirement Announced


The city of Albany has pulled the plug on this weekend’s Art and Air Festival.

The three-day event typically includes a large number of hot air balloons and draws thousands of spectators.

The Albany Parks and Recreation Department said in a statement that the last-minute cancellation stemmed from the state's newly announcement outdoor mask mandate, which takes effect Friday.

But it's not the mandate the led to the cancellation: It's the city's belief that many attendees would choose to ignore it.

"We will not put our staff, volunteers, or vendors in difficult situations with attendees that are unwilling to wear masks," read the statement. 

"This is a decision that we did not make alone," the agency said. "Over the past few weeks, many of our sponsors, vendors, and volunteers have expressed concern over holding a large event in an environment where cases are rising, vaccination rates are low, and mask-wearing, mandated or not, is so contentious."

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018 and became News Director in March, 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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