Note: This story was updated at 9:10 a.m. Sept. 12.
Daytime activities have been canceled at the Secret City Festival this month as the state and county experience a COVID-19 surge driven by the delta variant. However, the evening concerts, food trucks, and fireworks have not been canceled.
“Due to the ongoing resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Festival Board has been in discussions with the City of Oak Ridge, where concerns were raised about our ability to hold a viable, safe, and successful event,” Naomi Asher, marketing chair for the festival, said in response to questions Saturday. “Sadly, we must cancel all daytime festival activities, so that what we will be left with are the two evening concerts, food trucks, and fireworks.”
Asher said the Festival Board and City of Oak Ridge made the decision.
“All were in agreement,” she said.
The decision was made by the Festival Board with the support of the city because of concerns about the rising number of COVID-19 cases, especially among children, said Lauren Gray, spokesperson for the City of Oak Ridge.
“Additionally, there was going to be a limited number of volunteers during the day this year, due to the pandemic,” Gray said.
“The evening concerts allow for families to spread out, social distance, and wear masks, among other measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Gray said.
The concerts at the festival include Jimmie Allen on Friday, September 24, and All-4-One on Saturday, September 25. (See the concert page for more information.)
In a statement posted on social media, the festival board said it might seem confusing to still have concerts when other activities have been canceled.
“There are several factors at play,” the board said. “It became almost impossible to get enough volunteers due to the pandemic. This makes it almost impossible to run many of the festival areas, especially with additional pandemic protocols. We had to cancel everything inside due to exposure. We are also highly aware that 0-12 is the fastest growing demographic for illness so having children’s activities was ultimately determined to be unsafe. We are all disappointed. We did feel that many people would prefer to maintain a portion of the festival rather than have everything cancelled. We apologize again.”
Asher said the Art Center canceled the TN Creates juried art show independently and so did the Periodic Tables Sunday event.
She said organizers have not started to make plans for 2022 yet.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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