500 Festival Cancels All Remaining In-Person Events For 2020

(INDIANAPOLIS) – The 500 Festival, a nonprofit organization providing life-enriching events and programs that celebrate the spirit and legacy of the Indianapolis 500(r), today announced that it will cancel its remaining in-person events in 2020.

In April, the 500 Festival announced that it intended to move its event lineup to August, provided that the appropriate environment could be guaranteed for spectators, participants, volunteers, and staff.

As a nonprofit organization that hosts large scale events in Indy’s public spaces, the 500 Festival faced a number of unique challenges as they explored the necessary policies and plans. After extensive evaluation, and out of an abundance of caution, the 500 Festival determined it is not able to host its remaining 2020 events. With in-person events removed from the calendar, the 500 Festival will continue its focus on creating new ways for the community to celebrate the Indianapolis 500 virtually.

The following events will not take place in 2020:

  • 500 Festival Kickoff to May, presented by STAR Bank
  • Salesforce & JPMorgan Chase 500 Festival Kids’ Day and Rookie Run
  • 500 Festival Breakfast at the Brickyard, presented by Midwestern Engineers, Inc.
  • 500 Festival Volunteer Appreciation Day, presented by Citizens Energy Group
  • 500 Festival Memorial Service, presented by Rolls-Royce
  • IPL 500 Festival Parade
  • 500 Festival mini-mini

“We worked closely with local and state officials as well as local health experts, our partners at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and corporate partners to ensure that every potential option was evaluated. As an organization that produces large community events held in public spaces, we faced a number of unique challenges compared to an event hosted in a standalone venue,” said Bob Bryant, president and CEO of the 500 Festival. “This decision was not made lightly. With a wide range of programs and events that engage various audiences, the 500 Festival reached this conclusion with the utmost respect for the history and family traditions that will be impacted. We’re disappointed but we know that this is in the best interest of public health as well as the vitality of the 500 Festival for generations to come.”

In the months since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 500 Festival’s staff and board of directors have closely researched and monitored the ever-changing conditions relative to public health. After a great deal of consideration by the 500 Festival’s board of directors and staff, the difficult decision was made to forgo producing its remaining in-person public events.

While the 500 Festival’s events will not take place in-person, the organization will continue their nearly 65-year tradition of celebrating ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” the Indy 500, through a variety of virtual opportunities, programs, events, and experiences.

The 500 Festival will continue to add new virtual experiences and opportunities to its New Way to May webpage located at www.500festival.com/anewwaytomay.   

2020 marks the 64th year of the 500 Festival and the IPL 500 Festival Parade, one of the organization’s original events. This is the first time in 500 Festival history that the organization’s traditional schedule of events will not take place during the days leading up to the Indy 500. Each year the 500 Festival produces nearly 50 life-enriching events and programs that celebrate the spirit and legacy of the Indianapolis 500 and positively impact on the city of Indianapolis and state of Indiana. More than half a million people are impacted by a 500 Festival event or program. Since its founding, the 500 Festival has contributed more than $500 million in economic value to Indianapolis.

“We appreciate the overwhelming support of the community, our sponsors, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and city and state officials throughout this process. We are in lockstep with our longtime partners at IMS and together, both organizations are united in our core focus of accomplishing the Indy 500. By removing the 500 Festival’s events from the public calendar, we are able to shift our efforts and resources towards making this year’s Indy 500 race a success. We are proud to continue our nearly 65-year tradition of supporting the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,’ the Indianapolis 500, however we can,” continued Bryant.

The decision to forgo the remaining 500 Festival events in 2020 was made with the interest of the public’s health as well as the organization’s financial health. Proceeds from all 500 Festival ticketed events like the IPL 500 Festival Parade help support the organization’s free youth programming, which impacted 100,000 Hoosier kids in 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization has faced a substantial financial hardship resulting from the cancelations of its in-person events. Despite these challenges, the 500 Festival remains committed to providing creative new opportunities to celebrate the Indy 500 and building upon the success of its new virtual experiences, like the Indianapolis 500 Mile Challenge.

“While the days and weeks leading up to the Indy 500 won’t be the same without the 500 Festival’s lineup of community events, we appreciate the many unique challenges faced by the organization. The 500 Festival is one of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s longest and most dedicated partners and we are fully supportive of their decision. We’re looking forward to the Festival’s virtual celebrations leading up to the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 this August and we can’t wait to rejoin their community celebrations in May 2021,” said J. Douglas Boles, president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and 500 Festival board director.

“For the last 13 years, Indianapolis Power & Light Company, an AES company, has proudly supported the 500 Festival organization and Indianapolis community by serving as title sponsor for the IPL 500 Festival Parade. Moving forward, our commitment to one of the nation’s largest, most respected parades remains unchanged. We value what the parade offers to Hoosiers and visitors who gather to experience larger-than-life floats, giant balloons, celebrities and other dignitaries, marching bands, entertainers and the 33 drivers competing in the Indianapolis 500. We support the decision to cancel the IPL 500 Festival Parade this year to protect the health and safety of our people, our community and visitors. We look forward to seeing spectators along the downtown Indianapolis parade route in 2021,” said Tanya Sovinski, IPL’s director of community relations and 500 Festival board director.

Relevant details and options will be communicated directly to all 500 Festival event ticket buyers in the coming days. Details regarding any new virtual events for 2020 will also be announced as they are finalized and shared on the 500 Festival’s websites and social media. For more information about the 500 Festival and our programs and events, please visit www.500festival.com.