CHAPMANVILLE — The Town of Chapmanville has decided to cancel its annual Fourth of July fireworks display this year, and organizers of the Apple Butter Festival in September are mulling their options on how and whether the festival should be held.
During the Chapmanville Town Council’s most recent regularly scheduled meeting on June 16, town assistant to mayor and primary event coordinator Miranda Robinette said the town will not be having fireworks this year due to the City of Logan moving the date of the West Virginia Freedom Festival to July 1-4. She explained that the firefighters from Logan were supposed to shoot off the fireworks for Chapmanville, but now cannot due to having to work the Freedom Festival instead.
“That’s their priority and I understand,” Robinette said, “so as of right now, we will not have fireworks for Fourth of July, but I encourage everybody — if they want to watch fireworks — go to Logan, support them, stay in your car or stay by your car and do your social distancing, what you need to do.”
Robinette noted that the town is trying to put off some fireworks during the town’s Class of 2020 parade planned for Friday, June 26.
As for the Apple Butter Festival, which is normally held at the end of September, Robinette said she and other organizers are “playing it by ear” through July to determine what decision they will make regarding the event.
She said that if the festival does happen, it will be different this year due to the guidelines associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. This means the festival would not have as many vendors as usual and likely no carnival.
“I would be afraid if someone got on the rides that had it, they’re not going to clean between every person to slow things down,” Robinette said. “It’s up in the air right now. You want to be safe, but you want to have your festival. You don’t want to cause an outbreak, but you want to have your festival. You want to have something.”
“We talked about maybe doing something different at Christmastime, but like we were talking with the (Tracy) Vickers Center, it’s a day-by-day thing,” Robinette said. “We don’t know day for day what’s going to happen or what rules are going to change.”
Councilman Gary Bledsoe suggested that it might not be wise to hold the festival due to the recent resurgence in coronavirus cases.
“Things are getting worse again; they’re picking back up,” Bledsoe said. “Out of this state and some other states, it’s coming back. It’s not going to leave, and when you have something like that, that’s a big thing. There’s a lot of people that’s here. There’s people from out of our town or wherever and they come here and they get together for a big time. A lot of people on the beaches got together for a big time without wearing their masks and whatever they’re told to do. Now the virus has got a hold of some of them because they didn’t do what the warning was, and why would we want to bring things in our town and to our people — to any of the public where they’re from — to put them in harm’s way?”
Robinette added that she also has concerns about the safety of the vendors she brings into the town if it were to be held. Bledsoe added that the virus could be even worse by September and remarked, “We’ve got to take care of ourselves.”
“If you don’t want to take care of yourself, at least take care of me,” Bledsoe said. “Try to help me. I just think it’s a great thing to have, but I think it’s a bad time to even have it, and I know it can be a money project. I know that. It’s a need any time you can get money, but also lives are, too, and just one thing taking place — one thing, one death — is all it takes to make it a bad thing.”
Robinette made the assurance that if the festival has to be canceled, it will return for a bigger and better season in 2021.
“For me to sit here and say that we might have to cancel the festival, it shatters me inside,” Robinette said, “but to know that I can take care of the people and I can take care of my vendors, that’s better than … I can postpone it until next year. We can come back stronger next year. It hurts me, but if it has to happen, it has to happen.”