Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch made the decision Monday morning after Gov. Bill Lee’s Sunday announcement of an executive order closing bars, gyms and restaurant dining rooms across the state.
“We were hoping it wouldn’t come to this, since it was going to be a special year for the festival as it celebrated 25 amazing years,” Lynch said. “But our main concern is the safety and well-being of our residents and any potential visitors to the community.
“Given the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus and the recent spread into our region, I feel this cancellation is what’s truly best for our citizens.”
Previously scheduled for April 25, the festival is presented through a partnership of the Town of Unicoi and the Unicoi Business Alliance and annually draws more than 30,000 visitors.
The festival planning committee had been monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak for the past several weeks and was originally expected to make a decision by April 1 regarding whether it should cancel.
Unicoi Alderman and Business Alliance Treasurer Jeff Linville said, “We were trying to wait as long as possible to make a decision in hopes that the risk of infection would lessen over time. But now that we have confirmed cases all around us, it’s a different story. This is what we need to do to keep people safe.”
Held at the Farmhouse Gallery and Gardens, the festival features 17 bands on three stages, impromptu jam sessions across the festival grounds, an antique car show and an artisans fair with more than 30 handmade craft vendors and demonstrators. Vendors already registered will be contacted and all fees will be refunded.
More information about the festival may be obtained by contacting Patricia Bennett at 423-735-0517 or [email protected] More information about the Town of Unicoi’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic can be obtained by contacting Ashley Shelton at (423) 735-0317 or [email protected]