The International Bluegrass Music Association is moving its annual conference and awards show online for the year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. World of Bluegrass' panels, awards show, showcases and other festival performances will all be presented virtually on Sept. 28-Oct. 3.

The IBMA's World of Bluegrass event generally takes place in Raleigh, N.C.; however, due to this year's "extraordinary circumstances" -- the temporary banning of mass gatherings and the need for masks and social distancing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic -- festival organizers opted to turn the event into an online experience.

"Maintaining the health and safety of the large crowd we enjoy each year would be such an enormous, uncertain and risky proposition," explains Paul Schiminger, the IBMA's executive director. "However, we know how important this week is to our bluegrass professionals and fans, so we are moving forward in new ways ... We see this as an opportunity to reimagine every aspect of IBMA World of Bluegrass so we can still connect, educate, showcase and perform in fun and engaging ways."

According to a press release, the 2020 IBMA World of Bluegrass event's Bluegrass Ramble showcases, IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards and IBMA Bluegrass Live! festival will stream online for free. The conference will include "high-quality professional development sessions; 1-to-1 and group networking events ... and a Virtual Exhibit Hall, where attendees can engage with vendors via chat and video chat, participate in live product demos, purchase merchandise directly from vendors and more," along with additional "innovative, compelling activities and content."

Nominees for the 2020 IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards will be revealed on June 26 at 11AM ET. SiriusXM's Bluegrass Junction channel will broadcast the announcement live.

The IBMA's plans for a virtual conference, festival and awards show are in line with this year's plans for AmericanaFest, which generally takes place in Nashville in mid-September. The Americana Honors & Awards will take place at the Ryman Auditorium as planned, though exact details have yet to be announced, while the accompanying conference and festival have been canceled for the year, with plans for a three-day virtual event to be announced.

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