2020 would have marked the 24th annual PumpkinFest for downtown Franklin – an event that has drawn thousands of visitors to Macon County for the last two decades. However, due to COVID19, the town of Franklin unanimously voted Monday night to cancel this year’s celebration.
“With the COVID -19 pandemic continuing to evolve unpredictably and in accordance with state guidance on large gatherings, the Town of Franklin, NC has made the very difficult decision to cancel the 24th Annual PumpkinFest that was scheduled for Saturday, October 17, 2020,” announced the town.
North Carolina remains in Phase 2 of reopening, which limits mass gatherings to 25 people, which would prohibit a festival of any kind.
Town Manager Summer Woodard noted that the event typically takes 6 months to plan and it was getting down to the wire to make a final decision on the annual event.
Woodard said she had been working with Emergency Management Director Warren Cabe to determine the safety concerns around the event, and after consulting with the state, the Franklin Town Council concluded there is too much risk at this time to hold a festival of this size.
PumpkinFest is Franklin’s largest festival bringing over 8,000 people to downtown Franklin each year. Council member Joe Collins made the motion to cancel the festival this year, and in his motion directed Woodard to work with Main Street merchants to use the funds budgeted for PumpkinFest to explore alternative ways to promote Franklin and the downtown area this Fall.
Gwen Taylor, who heads up Streets of Franklin, a group of downtown merchants, addressed the board and said that businesses are getting creative and finding ways to encourage shoppers downtown.
Woodard plans to work with Taylor and main street merchants to strategize for safe options such as a pumpkin patch or additional fall decorations and promotions to make up for the financial loss businesses will endure as a result of the festival’s cancellation.
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