OHIO VALLEY — As the summer days dwindle down and COVID-19 cases continue to rise, many local event organizers are faced with the difficult decision of postponing or cancelling events, some for the second year in a row.
The region had 101 new COVID-19 cases reported to Ohio Valley Publishing (OVP) on Monday, which included multiple days of data — the last OVP COVID update included Friday’s numbers in Saturday’s edition.
On Saturday, the Battle Days committee made the decision to cancel this year’s event scheduled for October.
“School likely won’t allow field trips since cases are rising and they make up an entire day of the event,” said Chris Rizer, executive director of Main Street of Point Pleasant, who is on the committee. “The Mansion House, the indoor area for Battle Days, is far too tight a space to social distance. With the peak expected right around Mothman, and Battle Days only two weeks later, having it this year just isn’t possible.”
Rizer said the committee plans to meet to discuss the possibility of virtual events to take place of the in-person event.
Battle Days is not the only event to make the decision to postpone or cancel.
The Main Street Soiree event, set to take place in September in Point Pleasant, to raise funds for the the revitalization and historic preservation of Main Street has officially been postponed said Rebecca Farley, event director.
Main Street is “an affiliate program of Main Street America, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation,” according to their website.
The following statement was given to OVP from Farley on the decision to postpone the fundraiser: “Due to the unfortunate rise of COVID-19 case along with the unpredictable Delta variant in our area, the board of directors of Main Street Point Pleasant has made the decision to reschedule the Summer Soiree for 2022. We do not make this decision lightly as many factors were considered, but as a community-based organization we must do what is right to honor the health and safety of our community. Thank you to our sponsors and supporters, we look forward to hosting next year. Refunds will be available immediately. However, if you choose to hold onto your tickets, they will be honored in 2022.”
On Aug. 19, organizers of the Mothman Festival officially cancelled what would have been the festival’s 20th anniversary.
With the event attracting upwards of 10,000 plus people and attracting more families with young children, the decision was made out of safety for everyone.
“So, we have to think about this when it comes to visitors who may be positive for COVID, etc., people who live and work here are concerned,” Jeff Wamsley, festival co-founder, said. “We cannot put anyone at risk, and 15,000 people on a three-block area is just that. A big risk. We are concerned about younger kids now, they have not received the vaccine so they are vulnerable.”
OVP reported there were 37 new COVID-19 cases reported in the Ohio Valley area the same day the Mothman Festival announced the cancellation.
While many of the large, local events are being cancelled, small businesses are still open.
“Even though large events and gatherings are being cancelled, Main Street’s businesses are still open and operating normally,” Rizer said.
Currently the last Mayor’s Night Out, featuring Blue Moves, on Aug. 27 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the outdoor amphitheater is still set to go on.
“At this time we don’t see a need to cancel the last one due to having adequate spacing at the riverfront”,” said Amber Tatterson, city clerk of Point Pleasant.
The West Virginia State Farm Museum said at this time the upcoming antique tractor pulls and the Country Fall Festival are still on, but that is subject to change.
“At this point in time they are still scheduled,” said Tim Kidwell, executive director. “We are trying to get in touch with the health department and make sure we are up-to-date with the current recommendations. I am relatively sure we are having the tractor pulls and the festival in October, we are questionable.”
As of now the Point Pleasant Tribute to the River is still set to take place the first weekend of September.
“I called the mayor’s office Friday and they said we were still good,” said Butch Leport, event director. “Who knows. I’m sure there’s a chance that it could be cancelled [but] who knows. We don’t have large numbers of people, I wish we did.”
This year’s fireworks show with Tribute to the River was cancelled due to funding.
Leport is continuing to stay in touch with the mayor’s office on guidance.
Organizers with the Pomeroy Sternwheel Regatta said there is no talk at this time of cancelling the event set to take place the weekend of Sept. 23.
The Emancipation Proclamation Celebration is planned to continue Sept. 18 at the Gallia County Fairgrounds.
Planning for the 50th anniversary of the B0b Evans Festival in Rio Grande is still ongoing, said Gale Leslie, events coordinator. The event is set to take place the weekend of Oct. 8.
More on the events listed here which are still scheduled to take place in upcoming edtions.
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Brittany Hively is a staff reporter for Ohio Valley Publishing.