BUCKHANNON — The West Virginia Strawberry Festival Board met Tuesday evening, and following the CDC recommendation that no more than 50 people gather for the next eight weeks, they decided to postpone the festival until May 2021.
A letter from the President and Executive Director Sandra Bennett stated, “The 79th West Virginia Strawberry Festival Board of Directors on recommendation of the Executive Board, and with CDC guidelines has voted to postpone all Activities and Events related to the 79th West Virginia Strawberry Festival to May 2021. The Board of Directors will keep you updated as to what events may take place in the foreseeable future.
“Please bear with the Festival Board during this trying time for all of us as a City, County, State, and Country. Please watch our Facebook page for updated information at all times. May God Bless Us All! Sincerely, Sandra Bennett.”
The eight weeks of social isolation currently recommended by the CDC would last through the middle of the festival. Bennett said the Opening Ceremony, Family Fun Night and the Horse and Carriage Parade would not be permitted under current guidelines, so they have decided to postpone it altogether.
Publicity Chairperson Brittany Small reported that 21 states were confirmed to participate, but those states have advised against traveling across state lines. At least three countries were also confirmed to attend, but that clearly wouldn’t be possible either.
The board discussed moving the festival back to a later date, but the CDC doesn’t know how long the pandemic will last. President Trump predicted the crisis could last until at least July or August in a recent press conference.
Organizers of the 79th WV Strawberry Festival say it was only postponed for the year and they will still hold this year’s court for next year. According to Small, this happened once before during one of the wars.
“The festival board is very disappointed to make this decision. This is not what we wanted to do. We have been preparing since last June for the 79th festival. However, we feel we need to adhere to the CDC guidelines to postpone the 79th Strawberry Festival until May 2021,” said Small.
President Bennett emphasized, “It was a major decision that we needed to make at the moment during this time. We really had no other choice because of businesses that are being closed at the moment, and with people traveling long distances, we had groups coming from Mexico and Canada, because they can’t wait until the last minute to change their plans. So, we decided we needed to make the call and stand by it and move forward for next year.”