City officials make decision regarding annual Spirit of Grafton festival

GRAFTON— For the second consecutive year, the decision has been made to cancel the town’s annual Spirit of Grafton Celebration.

The Spirit of Grafton festival is typically held on Friday-Sunday prior to Memorial Day to kick off Grafton’s celebration of the holiday, however, COVID-19 has forced officials to make difficult choices and change the way the town is accustom to celebrating.

City Manager Kevin Stead revealed that the city council, under the guidance of health officials, made the choice to cancel the weekend-long event several weeks ago, prior to the governor announcing his decision on the reopening of fairs and festivals.

“At the time we were instructed only 250 individuals could watch the concert on Saturday night, and they must be spaced out,” he disclosed. “We had Darryl Worley under contract again this year and knew there was no possible way to limit the number of individuals in that space and then require masks.”

Additionally, at the time the decision was made, carnival rides had not yet been approved and in ordinance with the regulations in place, vendors were going to be required to be spaced out and pedestrian traffic had to flow in one direction.

“These were guidelines given to us at the time the decision had to be made. Planning an event of this magnitude takes many months and when the decision to proceed or cancel had to be made, those where the guidelines given to us,” Stead explained.

Although the town is unable to host its normal celebratory festival, city officials still wanted to offer a way for residents to celebrate the weekend.

Stead shared that while it won’t be nearly the same, the city will be putting on a fireworks display, sponsored by Bartlett Funeral Home and the City of Grafton.

The fiery display is scheduled to light up the sky on Saturday, May 29 at 10:00 p.m.

While folks are encouraged to come out and watch the show dance through the sky, city officials are continuing to recommend that community members do so safely by social distancing, avoiding large groups and wearing masks when in large numbers.

And although the Spirit of Grafton has been canceled, with the governor continuing to reopen the state, as recovery from COVID is on the horizon, locals are hopeful that they will still have a Memorial Day Parade to attend.

Decisions regarding the parade are made by the WV Memorial Day Parade Committee, who will be working with local health, city and county officials to reach a verdict on the fate of this year’s parade during their next meeting on Monday, May 3.



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