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SC Poultry Festival canceled due to coronavirus

Committee members canceled one of the Midlands' biggest festivals of the year to protect the health of the community, staff, and vendors.
Credit: WLTX

BATESBURG-LEESVILLE, S.C. — Officials with the South Carolina Poultry Festival have made the difficult decision to cancel this year's event in the Town of Batesburg-Leesville.

Brent Shealy, the co-chair of the steering committee for the festival, says they've been thinking about this decision for the last week or so.

"We met as a steering committee and decided unanimously to cancel the festival in lieu of all the concerns about the coronavirus," said Shealy.

The committee looked at CDC recommendations and other officials to help make the decision to cancel this year's event.

"We hated to do this because we always look forward to putting on the festival and look forward to having so many people in town and so many people look forward to it but we didn't have a choice really," said Shealy.

The co-chair says the main priority is the safety of the community, the staff, and the vendors who help put the festival on.

The South Carolina Poultry Festival is  one of the biggest festivals in the Midlands and in the state.

Around 300 volunteers help make the event possible. 

Shealy believes it's going to be a big loss when it comes to economic revenue for the area.

"It brings in a lot of people and they spend money in the town and they spend money in the town," explained Shealy. "Of course a lot of money is spent getting ready for the festival as well. It's just one of the negative impacts of not having it of course is not having the benefit of that activity. But again this is something we all have to sacrifice in whatever walk of life to get through this crisis."

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While the festival was originally supposed to happen at the beginning of May, officials felt it was necessary to cancel the event now. With so much uncertainty surrounded by the coronavirus situation, it's hard for staff to reschedule or add vendors when nobody knows what may happen next.

"As things have changed and evolved, you realized that we're all affected. Now I think it's a reminder to us of all the good things that we do have and we take for granted every day," explained Shealy.

The committee sent out a release on Thursday about cancelling the event: "Safety of our citizens, attendees, vendors, and volunteers must come first. We appreciate the loyalty of all our vendors, sponsors, volunteers, crafters, car show participants, 5K entrants, volleyball teams, carnival, parade entrants and all others who make our festival possible."

The co-chair says they appreciate the community's understanding while everyone works through the coronavirus situation.

"We'll get through this and certainly have another one next year. We'll just plan to have another one and just move on. That's all we can do," said Shealy.

The committee plans on bringing back the South Carolina Poultry Festival next year. The dates planned for it will be May 6th through the 8th in 2021.

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