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The Gambill Amusements “Crazy Train” carnival ride is seen in downtown Logan on Monday.

LOGAN — One of the first events of its kind to be held this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the West Virginia Freedom Festival in downtown Logan officially opens for its four-day run this year on Wednesday, July 1.

City officials and organizers of the event made the late decision in early June to proceed with the festival after Gov. Jim Justice allowed fairs and festivals to resume beginning July 1. As such, Logan moved the dates of the festival to July 1-4, up one week from the originally scheduled dates of June 24-27.

Over the weekend, Logan faced increasing criticism across social media for its decision to proceed with the festival amid increasing spikes in the number of positive coronavirus (COVID-19) cases across both the state and nation. Organizers have not backed off, though, and as of Tuesday, both the carnival and vendors were ready to serve patrons ready to enjoy the festival.

Due to the virus, this year’s festival is a scaled back version from previous years, with no second stage at the DMV/First Christian Church parking lot, fewer vendors and less entertainment.

Mayor Serafino Nolletti says the city will have precautions in place during the festival, including free handwashing and hand sanitizing stations and free face masks available to anybody who wishes to wear one. Gambill Amusements, the Buckhannon-based company providing the carnival, will be sanitizing rides and will attempt to keep people who are not in families at least six feet apart.

Additionally, the Logan County Health Department will be inspecting the booths as they do every year.

“We encourage everybody to use the sanitizing stations if they feel they need to,” Nolletti said. “They’re available free. Face masks are available free. We’ll have maybe some National Guard members here to help us with these sanitizing stations. LEASA will be helping us man some of these hand sanitizing stations. Everybody needs to use common sense. We want everybody to come have a good time, be safe. Try to do the social distancing if possible, when possible.”

Logan will be one of the first — if not the first — municipalities in the state to hold a festival in 2020, as most have either postponed or canceled this year due to the pandemic.

“We’re tickled to death, we’re leading the state,” Nolletti said. “I know a lot of people throughout the state are going to be looking at Logan this week to see how we do this, and we do have a lot of pressure on us, but we’ve always had pressure on us, everything we do. The whole country has been through a, and is still going through, a pandemic, and this is part of the governor’s plan to open the state back up and we’re proud to be one of the first in the state to be able to do this for our people, and I know the biggest part of the people want it. They want it every year.”

Nolletti addressed criticisms the city has faced this year over holding the festival, saying the festival is criticized every year.

“We always get criticized for this festival,” Nolletti said. “No matter what’s going on, we always get criticized. Some of these same people that criticize every year about the festival criticized this festival, and a lot of them don’t even know what they’re even talking about in some of the posts I’ve seen out there, you know, ‘The city makes money on this’ … the city does not make money on this festival. I spend money out of my own pocket every year to put this festival on for our people because I love this town and I love the people in it. I love our county, and I know the biggest part of the people want it. The naysayers are always going to be naysayers, pandemic or not, but the pandemic has added fuel to a lot of them’s fire this year. We’re not doing anything illegal.”

The schedule of events for this year’s West Virginia Freedom Festival is as follows:

Wednesday July 1: Class of 2020 Night — ‘Stronger Together’ T-shirt Night

6 p.m. — Carnival and Select Booth Vendors Open/Rock Wall and Gold Rush Sifting Adventure

6 p.m. — Prayer of Protection on the Main Stage with Charlie Abraham

6:15 p.m. — Intro State Fair CEO Kelly Collins/Intro and Honor of WVAFF Queen Breanna Pekula

6:30 p.m. — Honoring Hannah White, 2019 Miss WV Freedom Festival

• Crowning of Teen Miss WV Freedom Festival Maggie White by Man Mayor Jim Blevins and Mrs. WV Summer Hill

• Crowning of Miss WV Freedom Festival Haley Mullins by Logan Mayor Serafino Nolletti and Miss WVFF Breanna Pekula

• Intro of SWVCTC President, Pam Alderman/Presentation of Awards

7 p.m. — Crowning of Freedom Firework Queens/Top 5 Presentation

8 p.m. — Block Party with Bill France/Everyone Invited/In Honor of the Class of 2020.

All graduates from the senior Class of 2020 will receive a $5 off a carnival arm band with school ID or mini diploma.

Thursday, July 2: Health Care Hero Night

Health care workers get $5 off Carnival Arm Band With Your Badge or ID — Healthcare Hero T Shirt Night

6 p.m. — Carnival and Select Booth Vendors Open/Rock Wall and Gold Rush Sifting Adventure

6 p.m. — LuLu Logan Puppet Show in front of McCormicks

6 p.m. — Prayer of Protection on the Main Stage with Lee Dean

6:15 p.m. — Batman honors Healthcare Hero Workers in Main Stage

6:30 p.m. — Hammer Down Band

6 p.m. — Stilt Walker/Clown Show/Banjo Playing Comedy Show

6 p.m. — Gambill Amusement Carnival Opens

6:30 p.m. — Batman & Friends Meet and Greet throughout Downtown/Gifts for Healthcare Hero Workers

7 p.m. — LuLu Logan Puppet Show in front of McCormicks

8:30 p.m. — Hair Supply Band

9 p.m. — LuLu Logan Puppet Show in front of McCormicks

ALL DAY THURSDAY: Inflatable Entertainment, Rock Wall & Gold Rush Sifting Adventure, Booth Vendors, Gambill Amusement Carnival, Meet Batman & Friends.

Friday, July 3 — Salute To Coal Night

Coal miners get $5 off Carnival Arm Band

With Your Hard Hat or Employee ID — COAL Tribute Shirts Available

6 p.m. — Carnival and Select Booth Vendors Open/Rock Wall and Gold Rush Sifting Adventure

6 p.m. — LuLu Logan Puppet Show in front of McCormicks

6:15 p.m. — Prayer of Protection on the Main Stage with Josh Vanhook

6:30 p.m. — Audio Outlaws Band

6 p.m. — Stilt Walker/Clown Show/Banjo Playing Comedy Show

6 p.m. — Gambill Amusement Carnival Opens

FIREWORK QUEENS WILL BE HANDING OUT TOKENS OF APPRECIATION TO MINERS

7 p.m. — LuLu Logan Puppet Show in front of McCormicks

8 p.m. — Coal Salute Main Stage — Honor of Coal Pride Community Towns & Coal Miners

8:30 p.m. — Double Vision — Foreigner Tribute Band

9 p.m. — LuLu Logan Puppet Show In Front of McCormicks

ALL DAY FRIDAY: Inflatable Entertainment Rock Wall & Gold Rush Sifting Adventure, Booth Vendors, Gambill Amusement Carnival.

Saturday July 4 — Military/Veteran Celebration Night

Military Salute T Shirts Available

4 p.m. — FESTIVAL BEGINS Military Salute on Main Stage with Woody Williams

4 p.m. — Prayer of Protection on the Main Stage with Gary Wilson

4 p.m. — Military Salute on the Main Stage with Woody Williams, Fly Over, 21 Gun Salute/Taps

FIREWORK QUEENS WILL GIVE OUT MEDALS TO ALL VETERANS IN ATTENDANCE

6 p.m. — Booths Open

6 p.m. — Carnival and Booth Vendors Open/Rock Wall and Gold Rush Sifting Adventure

6 p.m. — LuLu Logan Puppet Show in front of McCormicks

6:30 p.m. — Hutchinson Brothers Band

6 p.m. — Stilt Walker/Clown Show/Banjo Playing Comedy Show

7 p.m. — LuLu Logan Puppet Show in front of McCormicks

8-8:30 p.m. — Freedom Festival Celebration Announcement on Main Stage

8:30 p.m. — Departure — Journey Tribute Band

9 p.m. — LuLu Logan Puppet Show in front of McCormicks

10 p.m. — FIREWORKS (TWO SHOWS from Hospital Hill & Water Tower)

ALL DAY SATURDAY: Inflatable Entertainment, Rock Wall & Gold Rush Sifting Adventure, Booth Vendors, Gambill Amusement Carnival.

Dylan Vidovich is a news reporter for HD Media. Contact him by phone at 304-896-5196.