For the past five years the MARCS convention committee has been working tirelessly to bring the ARBA Membership an amazing convention in Harrisburg, PA. We wanted history to be sweet as it repeats.
However over the past few months we have been following the COVID-19 pandemic and the outbreak of RHDV2 in the southwest. Both of these threaten the health of our exhibitors and their animals. Based on guidance we have received regarding COVID-19, it has only become clearer that large events will be difficult if not impossible to happen for the foreseeable future without disregarding the guidance we have been receiving and the policies of our local, state, and federal officials. The outlook regarding RHDV2 also does not look so good but time will tell how that virus spreads and potentially how it impacts the way we show rabbits in the future.
As a result, we have been forced to make the heartbreaking decision to cancel the in person 2020 ARBA Convention & Show in Harrisburg. This decision was not made lightly and done after consulting our Convention Veterinarian, Convention Epidemiologist, key members of the ARBA Board, the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex, the Hershey/Harrisburg Visitors Bureau, and others. We all agreed that it would be impossible to practice social distancing at this event and abide by local, state, and federal guidance. Also current ARBA RHDV2 restrictions would eliminate a growing portion of our membership from showing at our event if that continues over the next months and if the virus spreads further.
Our team is mourning this unfortunate announcement with you, however there is a silver lining to this dark cloud. The MARCS Convention Committee has switched gears and will be holding a virtual rabbit & cavy convention that offers a lot of the same activities as a convention just virtually. This will include judging using an entry system that will hide the identity of the exhibitor and much more. This event will also be about giving back to ARBA rabbit community. Soon the MARCS board will announce benefactors that will receive the majority of the proceeds from this historic event.
Please know that our entire team has grappled with this very difficult decision and we were holding out hope that we could still have our event and share with everyone the plans we have been working on. The health and safety of our exhibitors and their animals is our number 1 concern and based on the guidance we have received, we could not proceed knowing that we could put that in jeopardy for our attendees and their animals.