The year 2020 will be a year that many will never forget but will want to. COVID-19 has put life, as we once knew it on hold and possibly never to return. From early April, we have seen many of our customs and traditions be replaced with social distancing guidelines and many of the events that we all look forward to each year have been postponed or even cancelled. Spring sports, graduations, summer events, all obsolete in 2020 due to COVID-19. One of those events is the beloved Cumberland Mountain Fall Festival.
On Saturday, members of the Festival board took to their Facebook page to make the official announcement.
“It’s with a great deal of sadness we are announcing that we will not be able to host the Cumberland Mountain Fall Festival this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the post wrote. “We wanted to give adequate time to see if there was a downward trend, or a safety protocol plan we could implement that we felt comfortable could keep everyone safe and that could meet state guidelines.”
Following the post, the group was met with several questions and comments from community members who had been looking forward to this year’s festival. Some of those questions included why were car shows being held throughout the summer, why is Claiborne County Fair taking place, and how are concerts being held at Laurel Cove, and.
Vice Chair Jon Grace answered some of those questions to put the community’s concerns at ease.
“Trust me, no one is more bummed about not having the Fall Festival than our small group that puts it on,” Grace said. “A handful of volunteers work really hard every year to try and deliver an event our community can be proud of.”
Grace addressed the questions explaining that the same group does not put on the car shows and there is a different layout, logistics, and crowd size.
“Every event is unique when it comes to taking place during a pandemic,” Grace explained. “The Claiborne County Fair has different state guidelines. They obviously feel comfortable having it and I wish them luck.”
He support the decision of community members who feel comfortable attending the Claiborne County Fair.
“If you feel comfortable going, then by all means go,” he said. “But be a decent human and try to avoid people who are immune-compromised for a while.”
Grace addressed the concerts that have been held at the Laurel Cove Amphitheater.
“The concerts we’re doing at Laurel Cove have the logistic criteria to allow us to meet state guidelines and feel confident in doing the event,” he explained. “We cut capacity to one third, have masks required when not in your seat, and enforce social distancing.”
There is also a 10-page safety protocol plan specifically tailored to Laurel Cove and those events.
“It’s by far the most difficult event we’ve ever planned because keeping everyone as safe as possible is paramount,” Grace said of the concerts. “But we also had to try to find a way to do something this year.”
In regards to the Cumberland Mountain Fall Festival, the group explains that state guidelines have to be met and the festival simply did not meet those guidelines in order to be hosted in 2020.
“Due to the layout and nature of the event, that simply isn’t possible,” they stated on their Facebook page. “After such a fantastic event last year, we were looking forward to another awesome year but the safety of our attendees is paramount, and therefore we have to cancel.”
The 2019 Cumberland Mountain Fall Festival was one of the largest crowds to be hosted and included free live music, carnival rides, crafts, food, a car show, kids’ event area, Rock the Crater bicycle ride, the Magic City Mile Run, and more.
“Trust me, no one is more upset than me about not getting to have our festivals and events this year,” Grace continued. “But if the event can’t meet the state guidelines and we don’t feel that an effective safety plan is possible, we just can’t and won’t risk it.”
The group encouraged the community to look forward to next years festival, “We can’t wait to see everyone in 2021!”
To keep up with the latest information and updates on the Cumberland Mountain Fall Festival, you can visit www.cumberlandmountainfallfestival.net or www.facebook.com/CumberlandMtnFallFestival or visit their website at www.cumberlandmountainfallfestival.net.