One of the largest agricultural-based events of the year closed Wednesday for public safety reasons, amid the spread of the new coronavirus. 

In a statement, organizers of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo said, “In the interest of public health, the City of Houston and the Houston Health Department have ordered the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo to close.” 

The statement continues, saying, “Having to close early is extremely difficult as guests, volunteers, exhibitors, rodeo athletes and entertainers look forward to the 20 days of the Rodeo each year. 

In 2019, there were more than 2.5 million visitors to the event from 75 countries. 

The World Health Organization declared a pandemic Wednesday, sparking a chain reaction of events getting postponed or canceled because of the outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. 

The American Farm Bureau Federation also announced the cancellation of its Young Farmer And Ranchers conference set for this weekend in Louisville, Kentucky.