By Jimmy Espy
The Black Bear festival will go on in October, but will look different than the 2019 version.
The event’s board of directors voted last week to hold the popular annual arts and crafts festival despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which had led to the recent cancellation of similar events in the region.
One big change: the festival has been bumped to a new location, according to Erin Johns, director of tourism and operations for the Murray County Chamber of Commerce.
“We were informed that we would not have the use of the City Park,” said Johns. “I believe the city’s attorney said the size of the crowd created a liability for the city.”
The festival has been moved to the old recreation department property on Green Road.
“The vendors will set up in the main parking lot and the car show will be in the parking lot closer to the baseball field,” Johns added.
The festival is scheduled for Oct. 17-18, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the first day and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the second day.
Also missing from this year’s event will be the morning foot race and Kid’s Corner, the collection of bounce houses popular with children.
“We are not having the race because of the lack of participation last year,” said Johns. “We won’t have Kids Corner because they can’t sanitize properly after each participant.”
Food vendors will be required to sell prepackaged food.
Arts and crafts vendors will be on hand and there will be live music.
“I think people will be excited to have something to do,” said Johns. “Social distancing and use of masks will be encouraged. Hand sanitizer and hand washing stations will be made available. We are going to make this event as safe as possible.”