The Fernando Award gala dinner will be postponed until next year, Fernando Awards Foundation Director Pegi Matsuda confirmed to the Business Journal Tuesday.

The foundation announced in August that the award ceremony would not be held in-person on Sept. 24 as previously scheduled, but said it could possibly be held in a digital format towards the end of the year. It announced the official postponement Tuesday.

Matsuda explained directors, past recipients and others involved with the award felt the event was best held in person, and didn’t want to diminish the fanfare for honorees by holding it virtually.

“Just because of the history, 61 years … we thought it was the kind of event that was better in person,” she said. “We feel optimistic about being able to gather sometime next year.”

Fernando Foundation typically announces five finalists for the award, given to recognize the spirit of volunteerism, months in advance. That process has not been done this year.

Matsuda said the foundation’s directors continue to monitor the pandemic to inform their course of action, but tentatively plan to hold the gala dinner in person sometime next year.

The event is a major source of funding for the foundation, which issued a statement asking for donations to offset losses resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Although contributions by patrons and benefactors help cover Fernando’s yearly expenses, the annual award program provides the majority of funding for an entire year,” the statement said.

Added Matsuda: “Fernando is a long tradition here in the Valley, and it deserves to continue to have community support.”