HIGHLAND COUNTY, Va. – The annual Highland County Maple Festival has been postponed due to safety concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
Officials have postponed the event, originally scheduled for this weekend and next, until further notice. This year would have been the 62nd annual festival.
According to a statement released on Thursday, the Chamber of Commerce has been monitoring COVID-19 since March 6. The original plan was to put extra safety measures in place, but once coronavirus was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on Wednesday, organizers thought it would be best to postpone.
Below is a portion of the statement:
“However, concerns and recommendations escalated as more information was gathered in the afternoon on Wednesday, March 11th. These included the World Health Organization declaring the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, concerns from local EMS department and Highland Medical Center professionals about the health of the elderly population in Highland County, considerations from the VDH about cancelling events with populations especially vulnerable to higher risk for serious illness from the coronavirus like older adults above 60 years-old, vendors deciding not to attend out of safety concerns, regional events being cancelled, and an official recommendation from the Highland County Board of Supervisors to cancel the Maple Festival.”
The Chamber of Commerce held an emergency board meeting Wednesday night to talk about the plan of action, and a motion was made to table the decision to cancel until Thursday morning. Ultimately, the decision was made around 10:15 a.m. Thursday.
The statement continued as follows:
“The Highland County Chamber of Commerce fully understands the immense and overwhelmingly negative implications that will occur to the local economy, businesses, school system, nonprofits, civic organizations, churches, individuals, vendors, and visitors, as well as the Chamber of Commerce itself, based upon this unprecedented and undesirable decision, especially given the timing. The Chamber of Commerce will actively be looking at next steps regarding the future of this year’s festival, but we want to make clear that we are looking at holding the Maple Festival in 2021 as usual. This is a difficult time for the world, country and Highland County, but we believe in the resiliency of our community to come out of this better than before.”