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The Dayton Chamber of Commerce Board announced Thursday that the Tennessee Strawberry Festival will be canceled, due to ongoing concerns over the coronavirus. The festival was scheduled May 4-9, with preliminary events as early as April 25.

The news follows the cancellation earlier this week of the National Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, which had been scheduled April 25-26. 

Dayton Chamber President Missy Wood said the cancellation of all events was unprecedented in the Strawberry Festival's 73-year history. 

"We've never had to totally cancel," she said. "Even when we've had issues with the weather, we've been able to do parts of it."

The weeklong festival includes a carnival, baking contest, car show and block party. The culminating event, a parade through downtown, typically draws thousands to the Rhea County seat. 

A statement from the board said the decision was made "in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic as the Chamber strives to do whatever necessary to protect those in our community."

"This was very difficult," Wood added. "But we felt it was a decision we had to make sooner rather than later for our community and our vendors."

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