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Annual Pumpkin Festival reluctantly cancelled

From the Edmonton-Metcalfe County Chamber of Commerce

The health and safety of our community is and always will be our top priority. The decision to cancel this year's Pumpkin Festival was not made lightly.

The Pumpkin Festival is a time-honored tradition that our community and those outside of our community look forward to every year. In addition, it is the number one fundraiser for the Edmonton-Metcalfe County Chamber of Commerce. Canceling the event will have a significant financial impact on our non-profit organization.

The chamber's board of directors, which comprises a group of community volunteers, met on Thursday, Sept. 9, for its last regularly scheduled meeting before the Pumpkin Festival.

Local Emergency Management Director Emory Kidd requested to meet with the board. It was his professional recommendation that the chamber cancels the Pumpkin Festival for public safety reasons. The board considered this information, discussed, debated, and looked at all sides before coming to the very difficult decision.

The fact is people are still getting sick and dying from COVID right here in our community. We understand that other local and regional outdoor festivals have taken place and are still scheduled to take place, but we have to do what we think is best for Edmonton and Metcalfe County.

According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, on the same day as our chamber meeting, the COVID-19 incidence rate for Metcalfe County was 164 -- double the state average. Metcalfe had a higher rate than any of our surrounding counties, and only five of Kentucky's 120 counties had a higher incidence rate.

In addition to the high incidence rate, Metcalfe County has a low rate of vaccinations. According to the Barren River District Health Department, just 32% of Metcalfe County residents have been vaccinated against the COVID-19. Only one other county in the eight-county region has a lower vaccination rate. Furthermore, at this time, children under 12 can't be vaccinated at all.

At the chamber meeting, EMA Director Emory Kidd also shared his concerns about the safety and current demands of the local first responders required to assist with the Pumpkin Festival. Hundreds of Kentucky National Guard members have been deployed to help support hospitals across the state, including our closest hospital TJ Samson in Glasgow. On the day of our meeting, Governor Beshear announced there were only 90 available adult intensive care beds throughout the commonwealth, the lowest ever during the pandemic.

To add to our concerns, the Pumpkin Festival does not take place in a controlled environment. Masking can't be adequately enforced, active COVID-19 cases can't be monitored, and contact tracing can't be documented.

For these reasons, the Edmonton-Metcalfe County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors decided it was in the best interest of our community to cancel this year's Pumpkin Festival. We are brokenhearted, and we know our friends and neighbors are too. We hope everyone will continue to support the chamber and help us plan a bigger and better Pumpkin Festival next year.

This story was posted on 2021-09-15 14:10:35
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