40th annual Depot Days, Falkville Fall Festival succumb to ongoing pandemic
Two events that have for years brought thousands of people and dollars in revenue to Hartselle and Falkville have been canceled because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The 40th annual Depot Days in Hartselle and Falkville’s Fall Festival were both canceled because of the coronavirus and the risk it presents to the general public.
Mayor Randy Garrison said the decision to cancel Depot Days was a difficult but necessary one to make.
“While the Hartselle Area Chamber of Commerce made a strong effort to find ways to continue this celebration of our City’s history and what would have been the 40th year, in light of our current situation, it just was not to be found,” Garrison wrote in a post on Facebook.
Garrison, in his public post, addressed an email from Carolyn Bern, who works at the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Bern said one concern with holding an event such as Depot Days would be the asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 among attendees. Morgan County is at moderate risk, according to the ADPH.
In her email to Garrison, Bern said the community transmission rate is approximately 15 percent, based on current figures. “Bringing together a large crowd in this environment that cannot follow the 6 feet of social distancing, be fully masked and have handwashing/hand sanitizing stations available would be extremely risky,” she wrote.
Garrison also wrote that holding Depot Days this year could pose a threat to the citizens and employees of the City of Hartselle who work the event, as well as present a financial risk because of the lack of liability insurance coverage should a lawsuit be brought against the City.
Garrison shared his post with the Enquirer in his weekly column on page A4.
The 2020 Falkville Fall Festival would have been the town’s 23rd annual event, and Mayor Ken Winkles said planning for the Fall Festival held every October begins in February and March. This year, when the pandemic was just beginning, Winkles said plans were put on hold to see how things would develop.
“Our downtown area is very compact when we do this,” Winkles said. “We’re not spread out. It would be hard to social distance.”
Winkles said an average of 5,000 people attend the festival, held in downtown Falkville. Past entertainers have included Eric Pasley and Riley Green.
Since the festival will not be held this year, Winkles said the Town of Falkville will budget money to bring it back in 2021 and make it bigger and better.