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Town of Unicoi cancels annual Freedom Fest

From Staff Reports

The Town of Unicoi’s annual Freedom Fest, scheduled for July 4, has been canceled to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The decision comes after Johnson City announced the cancellation of its Fourth of July celebration a few weeks ago and the CDC continues to encourage social distancing.

“Freedom Fest is one of our biggest celebrations of the year,” Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch said. “But with the cancelation of competing events, we didn’t think we could safely handle a potential influx of visitors and still maintain CDC guidelines.”

The celebration typically attracts thousands of guests and features musical performances from local artists, food vendors and a massive fireworks display at dark.

“There is just no way to social distance at an event like this,” Communications and Programs Director Ashley Shelton said. “We considered every angle and even if the COVID situation drastically improves before July, we will still need to be cautious with larger events and work to prevent future outbreaks.”

The COVID-19 pandemic already forced the town to cancel its spring events including the Fiddlers and Fiddleheads Festival in April and the Wayne Scott Strawberry Festival in May.

“This is heartbreaking to the community, I know,” Lynch said. “But we will get through this and maybe by the fall we can begin having some of our larger events again, we just want to make sure it’s safe for everyone.”

While larger events like Freedom Fest won’t be held this year, Shelton confirmed that the Unicoi Farmers Market & Community Yard Sale will begin June 2 as previously scheduled.

The programs department is working to create new guidelines and procedures similar to other regional farmer’s markets and will announce those within the coming weeks.

For information regarding the Town of Unicoi’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, email [email protected] or contact Shelton at 735-0317.