**********PRESS RELEASE**********

June 18, 2020

Due to the ongoing situation with the coronavirus pandemic Visit Westerville is cancelling the July 24th, 2020 Mt. Carmel St. Ann’s 4th Friday Festival.

Our decision to cancel July’s festival is based on the following:

  • Mass gathering order for the State of Ohio remains at >10 until at least 7/1 with high likelihood of extension. 4th Friday festivals are not deemed essential by the state. Simply put, it is currently illegal for us to hold this event.
  • Our organization is funded by a percentage of hotel bed tax. Due to Coronavirus, our hotels are running at 10%-15% occupancy and our largest hotel remains closed until the end of July. Industry reporting shows that the hotel industry will not bounce back to normal levels for the next 2-3 years.
  • Due to the significant loss in financial funding now and into the foreseeable future, our team is currently furloughed with limited hours beginning in mid-July.
  • 4th Friday Festivals historically generate a crowd of 10,000-13,000 attendees. Given the footprint of the event and limited staffing and funding, we simply cannot safely hold the event while controlling and providing the following to the community:
    • Social Distancing of vendors
    • Social Distancing of attendees & crowd control (one-way entry and one-way departure)
    • Sanitization Stations throughout entire festival
    • Health & Safety of Uptown Merchants with a crowd of this size in and out of their stores
    • Safety of the community—Since the state is not enforcing masks, we have no way to enforce this on attendees.
    • Liability-currently there are no state or federal protections in place to protect our organization from a legal standpoint.
  • Many local organizations, including the city of Westerville, have already cancelled July events with large crowds (i.e. Music & Arts Festival-Chamber of Commerce, 4th of July parade and fireworks-Kiwanis, Red, White & Boom-city of Columbus, Concert and Jazz series-city of Westerville)

Visit Westerville is committed to growing our Tourism Economy, however, the health and well-being of our community, visitors and team are a priority. Our team will continue to monitor the situation in conjunction with our state, city, and county health officials as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

If you are a currently registered 4th Friday vendor through Event Hub and you have any questions about the status of your order or how to proceed, please contact Robin Collins directly at rcollins@visitwesterville.org.

Refunds will be issued to all vendors that have already paid for the month of July. If you need a refund receipt, please contact Robin Collins directly at rcollins@visitwestervile.org.

In an effort to support our valued 4th Friday Vendors, we have created the 4th Friday Virtual Vendor Marketplace. The marketplace can be found on our website under the 4th Friday Information drop-down menu. All vendors that were originally registered for April, May or June are included. July vendors will be added by July 4th. We invite you to explore the marketplace at your leisure and help continue to support our local vendors.

Thank you,

Marie VanDervoort, CTA
Executive Director
Visit Westerville
PH:(614) 794-0401
email: info@visitwesterville.org

Robin Collins, CTA
Business Development Manager
Visit Westerville
PH:(614) 794-0401
email: rcollins@visitwesterville.org