Forest Festival date/place changes reflect event industry challenges

Forest Festival date/place changes reflect event industry challenges

ANGELINA COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - The future of the Festivals, Fairs, and Events industry is still plagued with uncertainty, according to the Texas Festivals and Events Association. But it’s not giving up, according to the organization’s executive director Kay Wolf.

“I hear reschedule. I hear cancel until 2021. I hear reinvent. I hear set guidelines, but I don’t hear leave the festival business,” said Wolf during a Nacogdoches Chamber of Commerce Stakeholders Conference Call.

The Piney Woods Fair is canceled, but holding onto youth ag events.

The Texas Forest Festival is rescheduling from September to November, going from five days to one day and relocating from the expo center to downtown. The new brand is the Forest Festival On First Street.

“It was a hard decision,” said Angelina County Chamber of Commerce executive director Tara Watson-Watkins.

Downtown Lufkin will host the 36th Texas Forest Festival, just festival of many statewide undergoing rebranding because of COVID-19.
Downtown Lufkin will host the 36th Texas Forest Festival, just festival of many statewide undergoing rebranding because of COVID-19. (Source: KTRE)

The chamber’s budget relies on proceeds from the annual event.

“We want to have an event, but we also know that it’s our responsibility to make sure if this event does occur that we’re doing it safely and that we aren’t doing anything that would jeopardize our community.”

Suggested industry guidelines include online ticket sales, one gate entrances, enforcement of COVID-19 protocol, and even disclaimers reminding festival-goers that they’re accepting the risk of airborne exposure to COVID-19.

Wayne Mitchell/Nacogdoches Chamber of Commerce, Executive Director, Wayne Mitchell recognizes the economic impact festivals have a community. He is also concerned about social responsibility.

“If there is an outbreak immediately after an event that we host the health damage to the community is significant, but the reputation to the organization could take a hit that it might never recover,” said Mitchell during the Stakeholders Conference Call.

Industry research is indicating that the public is tiring of virtual events and longing for live activities.

Festivals can be found on the calendars, even in 2020. Together attendees and hosts will share the risks.

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