BUCKHANNON – The Buckhannon Consolidated Public Works Board voted to cancel the upcoming Truck Fest, which had been slated to take place in mid-September.
During the Aug. 26 board meeting, Buckhannon mayor Robbie Skinner said the city had been meeting with several entities, including the Upshur County Board of Education, the BBQ Bash and the West Virginia Strawberry Festival to put the event together.
“We were trying to bring people together to see if we could put a nice event on the books for Sept. 18,” Skinner said. “We had a nice little plan rolling down the pike, but with the COVID spike here in the community, the discussion has come about that maybe it would be best to not have the Truck Fest on that on that weekend.”
Skinner said it will be up to the Stockert Youth & Community Center if Children’s Fest would be canceled, but the CPWB would have to decide about Truck Fest.
“I see both sides of this,” the mayor said. “I hate that we have to continue thinking about canceling things, especially events like this that are good for the kids – and there’s a lot of kids in this community and communities that surround us who don’t have the opportunity to see a lot of joy, and to come to an event like this that is totally free and gives them an opportunity to just be kids.”
“It’s a good event to have and it’s been popular in the past, but we have to also think about the fact that the demographic that we would be attracting – aka kids [under 12] – are not vaccinated and that’s part of the reason why this is up for discussion,” Skinner added.
City of Buckhannon Director of Public Works Jerry Arnold said it would be impossible to have an event like in the past because of the current COVID spike.
“I can tell you Truck Fest is not going to happen because the Street Department put most of it together, and we stopped planning when the spike started, so in order to get equipment in here, you have to have two months’ worth of getting letters out there for requests, and I just started sending those out when the spike happened and they started pulling back, so we were in a wait period there for two or three weeks to see what was going on,” Arnold said. “Now we’re at the point that there’s no way we can pull Truck Fest off in the amount of time we have left for planning. We can do something with our own vehicles, in-house, but it wouldn’t be what it’s been in the past.”
Board member Nancy Shobe asked if the Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department officials had given their input.
“I think at the last meeting, they said that it has not peaked yet, and they don’t expect it to peak for maybe a couple of weeks, and then even after the peak, you’re 10 weeks out from that to come back down to a lull,” Amberle Jenkins, director of finance and administration for the city, said. “They would recommend not having Children’s Fest.”
Shobe said they should abide by the health department’s recommendation and board member Pam Bucklew agreed.
“I hate this – this is terrible for the kids – but because of the uptick, I know there’s more and more children this affects now. My own granddaughter down in South Carolina got deathly sick from her dad and he had the shot,” Bucklew said. “I would hate to be the county that had an event with kids and then a bunch of kids end up getting sick, and everybody surrounding us has already been canceling things. The Forest Festival is canceled, Barbour County Fair has been canceled, and I think the Strawberry Festival was planning on having a pageant. If we don’t cancel our events, they’re going to have a kids’ pageant, so I think the best thing to do is cancel as well.”
Skinner said the city did not want to take any actions that could potentially contribute to closing schools again.
“We need to do everything we possibly can to try to keep kids in school, and to bring them together and create a potential outbreak that’s going to end up closing school – that’s not good for kids either,” Skinner said. “At school, they have safeguards in place, and they’ve planned and planned. They’re set up to try to keep them safe while they’re in school, and we don’t want to disrupt that.”
Board member Mark Waldo made the motion to cancel Truck Fest and Bucklew seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.