The COVID-19 ax fell on another local event Friday, as the 2021 Annual Ramps and Rail Festival was canceled due to health concerns surrounding large public gatherings.
This is the second year in a row that the Ramps and Rails Festival has been canceled because of COVID-19, making it one of the first local events to have suffered that fate twice. Let’s hope it doesn’t become a long list.
Already in 2021, the pandemic has forced the canceling of Fasnacht in Helvetia, and the Maple Syrup Festival in Pickens was canceled for the second straight year.
In 2020, the list of annual events that were canceled was long, including such major traditional crowdpleasers as the Mountain State Forest Festival, the West Virginia Strawberry Festival, Coalton Days and all the local county fairs.
These events have become local traditions, and in addition to being wonderful social gatherings, they are also hugely important for our local economy. They also serve as vital fundraising opportunities for key local nonprofit groups.
It’s too early to know whether any of these traditional fairs and festivals will join the unfortunate ranks of those that have been canceled in both 2020 and 2021, but organizers are hoping for the best and working to plan for alternative-style celebrations if the need arises.
In their favor is the fact that positive COVID-19 testing numbers have gone down in recent days both throughout the state and locally.
It’s also promising that West Virginia has drawn praise for the high percentage of COVID-19 vaccinations being administered in the Mountain State. It stands to reason that the more local residents who are vaccinated, the lower the chances of contracting the coronavirus will be.
And although it was unclear in the early stages of the pandemic, experts now feel that outdoor activities pose much less threat of spreading the virus then do indoor gatherings. This would also seem to give hope to the many outdoor events still scheduled for later this year.
After such a difficult year during the pandemic, who among us wouldn’t enjoy eating some strawberries later this spring during the festival in Buckhannon, joining the happy crowds at the county fairs in late summer, and watching the MSFF’s Grand Feature Parade this fall?
We are all more than ready to enjoy such good times again. Unfortunately, we’ll just have to keep watching and waiting, and hoping for the best.