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The Fourth Avenue Street Fair normally attracts thousands of visitors to Tucson, but moved to the internet after it was canceled.

The Fourth Avenue Merchants Association is canceling their annual Winter Street Fair due to a new special event permit application which would leave little time to properly plan the event.

New guidelines released by the City of Tucson and Pima County last week state that all special events of 50 people or more held in unincorporated Pima County will need to apply with the Pima County Health Department. The special event application turnaround time is between 14 to 21 days, according to an Oct. 9 email sent by the county.

“We can’t do anything without proper permitting,” said Monique Vallery of the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association. “We want to produce the safest COVID adherent event as possible and time just isn’t in our favor.”

Typically, the merchants association would only need to apply for a special event permit with the city, Vallery said. While she “absolutely respects” the county and city’s decision to keep Tucsonans safe during the pandemic, Vallery said she is disappointed at the timing of these new protocols because “it makes planning for an event this size impossible.”

“Because we haven’t been able to see what guideline would be or what those expectations would be earlier, it really doesn’t allow for enough time to come up with a mitigation plan to fit the needs of all parties,” Vallery said.

This is the second street fair the merchant's association has had to cancel due to coronavirus concerns. About 98 percent of the association’s revenue budget comes from the bi-annual street fair, according to Vallery. She said the association has worked hard to save over the past several years for a rainy day, but “nobody expected this rainy day to be this big or last this long.”

“This is certainly devastating but our goal is to continue to support our local merchants on the avenue, as well as all the folks we support through our community partners,” Vallery said. “We’re working hard to continue down the path get us to the Spring Street Fair.”

The Fourth Avenue Spring Street Fair is slated for March 19-21, 2021.