Smithsonian to rural regions: Your wealth is in your culture

A consistent Top 20 Southern Tourism event, the two-day Apple Festival brings more than 110,000 people to downtown Erwin.annually.

The 2020 Unicoi County Apple Festival has been canceled due to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

The festival, scheduled to take place Oct. 2-3 this year, draws thousands every year and is one of the most popular festivals in the region.

Amanda Delp, executive director of the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce, which organized the yearly event, said the decision to cancel it was not made lightly.

“There was a lot of consideration that went into the decision, our executive committee spent many hours making the decision,” she said Thursday. “We looked at state health mandates and weighed all of the options to see if there was a way to safely have the festival. Unfortunately, it was inevitable that we were not going to be able to have it this year.”

With as many at 120,000 expected attendees over two days, Delp said crowd control and enforcing social distancing and mask use would have been near impossible.

Delp said the loss of tourism revenue to the community will have a tremendous impact.

Normally during the festival, hotels sell out of rooms and retail stores and restaurants are crowded. The festival also brings in money to vendors and nonprofit organizations.

The Chamber had already spent $20,000 for deposits, advertising and other preparations before making the decision to cancel.

Delp said the festival’s vendor contracts include provisions against refunds in the event of uncontrollable circumstances, but the vendors’ fees can be applied to next year’s festival for a discount.

This year would have been the 43rd annual event.