The 31st Southern Heritage Classic (SHC) has been canceled — a casualty of COVID-19.

SHC founder Fred Jones Jr. (Photo: Karanja A. Ajanaku)

“I know this is a great disappointment to many who consider the SHC one of the major highlights of the year,” said Fred Jones Jr., founder of the Southern Heritage Classic.

“The health and safety of our attendees along with that of our staff, sponsors, and others is a top priority.”

None of the SHC events that were scheduled for Sept. 10-12, 2020 will be held. Those who purchased tickets for the football game can receive refunds at the point of purchase.

The decision to cancel all events followed SHC’s management review of Shelby County Health Department’s Health Directive No. 6 detailing emergency management relief efforts put in place to address COVID-19, specifically those regarding recreational or athletic activities.

Massive crowds have the potential to increase the spread of the novel coronavirus. On average, over 75,000 people attend the SHC annually and individual events such as the tailgate in Tiger Lane, the football game between Jackson State University and Tennessee State University and the parade in Orange Mound.

“I encourage everyone to keep practicing recommended safety and social distancing measures so that we can return to our usual activities as soon as possible,” said Jones.

In a release about the cancellation, SHC management expressed gratitude to Jackson State University, Tennessee State University, the fans, sponsors and the SHC ambassadors for their longstanding support of The Classic.

“This isn’t the first challenge we’ve faced, and we will overcome this one as we have the others.”