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Eau Claire Jazz Festival canceled due to spread of COVID-19

The following release was shared Wednesday, March 18 by Eau Claire Jazz, Inc., the organization responsible for the Eau Claire Jazz Festival, Jazz Crawl and Gatsby’s Gala, in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

The Eau Claire Jazz Festival and the accompanying Jazz Crawl, formerly 52nd Street, will not take place in April of 2020 out of concern for the health of attendees and in recognition of governmental efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

"The health of all our festival participants and those close to them — from middle school band members to our esteemed adjudicators and guests from around the country — and the well-being of the Eau Claire community are of top concern to the Eau Claire Jazz, Inc. board," board president John Genskow said. "While this was not an easy decision to make, we believe it is the most responsible decision we could make in light of concerns about the novel coronavirus and the disruptive impact that has had on all levels of education and society."

This will be the first year the Eau Claire Jazz Festival has not occurred since its inception in 1967. The longest-running student-operated jazz festival in the country, the Eau Claire Jazz Festival welcomes participation from middle, high school and collegiate jazz ensembles for a two-day experience that spans UW-Eau Claire’s campus and downtown Eau Claire. Students participate in Master Classes, Student Sessions, and a signature Concert Series, which brought Doc Severinsen to the festival in 2017 and featured Grace Kelly and the New York Voices in 2019. Severinsen remains an honorary board member of Eau Claire Jazz, Inc.

The annual Jazz Crawl — formerly 52nd Street — is also cancelled in light of restrictions on public gatherings, as well as on the bars and restaurants that serve as performance venues. Jazz Crawl is operated by Eau Claire Jazz, Inc., and proceeds from the annual event support the accessibility and affordability of the Jazz Festival for participating ensembles. Additionally, those funds go toward a scholarship fund through the UW-Eau Claire Foundation.

"Eau Claire Jazz remains focused on supporting excellent educational experiences for students, inspiring performances for our community, and appreciating the talented artists who participate in our events," ECJI executive director Quentin Volk said. "We'll continue looking for opportunities to support musicians, educators, and students as this situation evolves. For now, deciding not to hold our events as scheduled is the first action we can take to support the health of these communities."

Band directors, adjudicators, and musicians have been contacted regarding the board's decision, and registration fees for this year's events will be refunded. Processes are underway to ensure refunds for any members of the public who purchased tickets for any of these events. For additional information and updates on refunds, visit For additional comment, members of the media may contact Quentin Volk, Executive Director, at 970-685-2533 or