The 2020 North Atlantic Blues Festival has been canceled for 2020 out of concern about the COVID-19 threat, founder and organizer Paul Benjamin said Tuesday.

"It was a tough, tough decision but I didn't feel right bringing in thousands of people to the community and then seeing a spike in cases," Benjamin said.

The Blues Fest is the first of three major summer festivals scheduled in Rockland for the summer. The Blues Fest was scheduled to be held July 11 and 12 this year. The event brings in 15,000 to 16,000 people each year, Benjamin said.

This would have been its 27th year in Rockland.

He said the same artists who were booked to play in 2020 have been booked to play in 2021 which is scheduled for July 10 and 11.

Ticket holders will be sent emails given them options including keeping the tickets for 2021.

Benjamin said trying to make the decision has kept him up at night. He said 10,000 brochures had already been printed and 4,000 mailed.

But he said the decision was the correct one in light of the concern that drawing in large crowds from around the country and world could lead to a spike in cases in Rockland.

No decisions have been made yet on the two other major summer festivals scheduled to be held in Rockland. The Lobster Festival is scheduled for July 29 through Aug. 2; and the Maine Boat and Home Show is scheduled for Aug. 7 through Aug. 9.

Gov. Janet Mills said Monday the state will have directives by June 1 for organizations that are planning "crowd gathering events" such as festivals.