LOGAN — City officials in Logan are still hoping to host the annual West Virginia Freedom Festival in late June — scheduled one week after the now-cancelled Coal Festival — despite an uncertain outlook caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Logan Mayor Serafino Nolletti addressed the status of this year’s festival, scheduled June 24-June 27, during the Logan City Council’s regular session Tuesday, May 12. He said the city is holding out as long as it can — no later than June 1 — to make the call of whether to cancel the festival or not, and that if it is held, it will likely be a scaled-back version from usual.
“Every day, people’s calling wanting to know about it,” Nolletti said. “I will say, it doesn’t look real good. I’m going to wait until as long as we can to make a call. Probably June 1, we’ll have to make the call whether we do it or not, and if we do do it, it will probably be scaled down because we haven’t been able to do any fundraising or anything like that.”
Nolletti noted that the call will ultimately come down to whether Gov. Jim Justice gives the green light for mass gatherings. He said a cancellation of the festival could happen even sooner than June 1 if Justice addresses how fairs and festivals will be conducted.
“We’re hoping that we can do it because it’s something positive, but if the governor doesn’t open it up to mass gatherings, we can’t,” Nolletti said.
Numerous fairs and festivals throughout the Mountain State have already announced their cancellations for the remainder of 2020.
In Boone County, organizers of the Boone County Fair, held in August, have already decided to pull the plug for 2020. On Thursday, May 14, organizers of the West Virginia Coal Festival, scheduled to be held in Madison one week before Logan’s Freedom Festival, announced their plans to suspend the festival for the year to focus on 2021 instead.
So far, the only things booked for the Freedom Festival this year are the carnival and fireworks, according to Nolletti. If the festival is ultimately cancelled, he said the fire department will hold their usual Fourth of July fireworks display, and the one scheduled for June 27 will be held at a later date or event, such as the Shawnee Island Festival or Christmas Parade.
“We’ll still have our big show, it just won’t be on June 27,” Nolletti said.
Nolletti also said he pondered possibly rescheduling the Freedom Festival to mid-October because that’s the only time the carnival could reschedule to, but both he and City Clerk Amber Miller agreed that it would be too close to Chapmanville’s Apple Butter Festival, which is held in late September. Miller noted that other dates for the carnival could become available as fairs and festivals continue to cancel.