4th of July postponed

Published 12:11 pm Friday, May 22, 2020

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Columbus agrees to postpone festival until October

COLUMBUS—The 58th annual 4th of July celebration in Columbus will not be held this July.

Columbus Town Council met during a Zoom meeting Thursday and decided to postpone the festival until Oct. 3.

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The 4th of July festival is planned to coincide with the 2nd annual Wood Carvers and Whittlers festival on Oct. 3.

Council members heard from July 4th committee chair Lisa Krolak on Thursday.

Krolak said the committee has been meeting since last August to plan this year’s festival and began thinking about what they would do regarding the festival when the pandemic started. She said the options were to postpone it, to cancel it or to hold it.

“I’d hate to see a spike in cases in the county following the 4th of July,” Krolak said.

She said the committee majority voted to cancel the festival this year.

“It’s very hard for people on the committee to make a decision,” Krolak said. “There are so many parameters involved. The majority things we should cancel this year. Not that we don’t want to have the event, we are just concerned for the community.”

Governor Roy Cooper issued an order Wednesday reopening some businesses that will continue until June 26. It is still not known what Cooper will issue in stage III after June 26. Outside gatherings are still limited to 25 people or less.

Krolak listed other area events that have been cancelled in Polk and surrounding counties this summer.

Councilman Mark Phillips said he is not in favor of canceling the 4th of July at this point, but was in favor of postponing the event. He said the town has done a decent amount of fundraising so far, including about $3,000 in sponsorships and another $1,500 in vendor fees.

Town clerk Monica Greene said the town has not done a big push for vendors yet because the town has been waiting on a decision to be made. She also said the town has received a lot of calls from vendors asking if the event will be held or not this year.

Phillips said it is a virus and viruses do not go away. He said there’s already likely 5,000 people a day going outside the county for work. Flu vaccines do not always work, he said. Phillips said some of the reporting with COVID-19 has not been accurate and he does not know if social distancing really works.

“You look at Sweden who did nothing and they are through this,” Phillips said. “There’s a lot of factors that go into this.”

He said if the town votes to cancel the event, he would vote no. He suggested and motioned for the festival to be held in the fall.

Councilman Robert Williamson said in Polk County has the highest risk population in the state per capita. He said not just in the nursing homes, but the county and town have many people over age 65 and 85.

“When we look at the community calendar events are being canceled all around us in July and August,” Williamson said.

Phillips agreed that it is not realistic to have the festival in July. He suggested doing a joint festival with the Whittler’s festival on Oct. 3.

The decision to postpone the July 4th festival is pending on the town maintaining its sponsorships, securing the children’s rides, the fireworks and approval from the 4th of July Committee.