The Hope Heritage Days board voted Tuesday evening not to hold the annual festival this year.

"We delayed this inevitable decision for as long as we could, hoping and praying for COVID-19 conditions to improve," said Michael Dean, CEO of Heritage of Hope. "We realize this news is a major blow to our area non-profit organizations, who depend on our efforts for much of their operating budgets. Several businesses and many vendors will also be negatively impacted.

Dean said many scenarios were considered to help minimize their loss of income, however "each option brought health risks that we would never be able manage."

"The current board was looking forward to making this another great Heritage Days, and we are very disappointed to have to make this announcement," he said. 

Dean said that the festival organizers will not be out a lot of money, as many of the normal bills have yet to be incurred.

"Some operating costs, such as insurance, still must be paid," Dean said. "However this outcome was one of the scenarios I mentioned, and I have been working with Johnson-Witkemper to get that expense reduced."

Heritage Days organizers talked about how to help the not-for-profits that depend on the September festival for a major part of their annual fundraising. Some could attempt virtual events to raise funds, Dean said.

"Any virtual events would need to be headed up by those organizations, not the Heritage Days board. It was discussed as an alternative that they could take on, and most, if not all, of us would be glad to help as individuals."

Dean said committee chairpersons will be making contact with those affected as soon as possible, but those with questions should feel free to reach out to their usual representative for more information.