There has been a lot of anger and disappointment circulating on social media regarding the cancellation of big local events such as the annual Franklin County Agricultural Fair and Independence Day Festival.
As an annual Blue Ribbon Sponsor, The Franklin News-Post is heartbroken the event will not go on as planned this year, but we must tip our hats to the planners who made the tough call.
While yes, there are concerns over what may or may not be come in September with respect to the coronavirus, what people seem to be forgetting or perhaps not realizing is that months of planning goes into these huge events. Vendors come from all over, such as the Cowboy Circus out of Florida, the Great Lakes Timbershow from Michigan, the midway rides out of North Carolina, and the list goes on. It takes a lot of scheduling in advance and juggling for these things to all come together for one weekend each year in Franklin County.
It also takes dozens, if not, hundreds of volunteers in some cases, to make these large events happen, and a good number of these volunteers are in the senior population — also considered the vulnerable population by health officials.
To be successful for all involved, a larger event typically needs a six- to nine-month lead time for promotional considerations. It is rare that a large event sees the success it needs to be financially viable for the vendors without a large turnout. If a vendor doesn’t have a successful day, he is not likely to return the following year for another event and eventually, the larger event falls apart.
It is also worth noting that Franklin County is not alone in these decisions. Roanoke canceled its July Fourth fireworks display to reduce the risk of mass gatherings as did Vinton. July Fourth is less than a month and a half away and, according to Gov. Ralph Northam, we may not even be in the third phase of the state’s reopening plan by then; therefore, large gatherings would not be permitted.
Minnesota, North Dakota and Ohio have canceled their state fairs for 2020 as did Alaska, where COVID-19 cases barely top 400 statewide.
The organizers of these events are the last people who want to see them canceled, as they spend months working to make them a success. While we all are longing for something to do and events to look forward to we’re going to have to refocus and look forward to the events that return next year. Let’s support the planners who have to make these seemingly impossible decisions. Let’s lift them up and support the return of the events next year — assuming it is safe to do so at that time.
In the meantime, stay safe, practice social distancing and support local businesses. And remember, events that we loved in the past will eventually return, although we probably won’t be able to return to life as it was before.
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