Summer Festival canceled for 2020

Published 6:43 pm Friday, July 17, 2020

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The Washington Summer Festival has been canceled for 2020, the first time in the event’s 36-year history. The Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce announced the decision Friday, saying the move was intended to protect the community from further spread of COVID-19.

The festival, originally scheduled for June 5-6, was moved to Sept. 11-12 as COVID-19 cases continued to rise locally and throughout the state.

“We pushed it back to September, hoping at that time the virus would be under control, and we would be able to hold mass gatherings and celebrations,” WBCCC Executive Director Catherine Glover said. “Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened.”

Despite safety considerations such as hand-sanitizing stations, social-distancing recommendations and removing rides, the chamber came to the conclusion there was no way to safely hold the festival.

“Even with all safety protocols in place, we felt there was no practical and safe way to effectively socially distance the amount of people we expected to attend the Summer Festival,” a chamber press release reads. “This was a very difficult decision, as the Summer Festival has been ongoing for 36 consecutive years, and a part of our community’s annual tradition.”

Glover said the cancellation of the festival also means losing the chamber’s biggest fundraising event of the year. Just as the pandemic has caused financial hardships for so many businesses in North Carolina, times have been lean for the nonprofit, as well.

“We are no different than any other business at this time,” Glover said. “What we’re having to do is try hard to support our chamber members. How we exist is from chamber memberships, so we want to make sure we’re serving our members and our business community to the best of our ability. We believe that if we do that, our membership will see that value and continue to support us.”

While the Summer Festival is a no-go for 2020, next year’s festival has already been scheduled for June 11-12, 2021. Glover says the chamber also hopes to hold some type of festival event this coming winter.

“As soon as we can safely have a festival, we plan to do so,” the chamber release said. “Our hope is to have a winter festival of some type to celebrate all our community has gone through in the recent months. We will be ready to honor the resiliency, fortitude and courage of our businesses and community as soon as we can. We plan for the Summer Festival to resume once again in June 2021.”