Dayton Days Autumn Celebration Postponed until October 2, 2021
Out of concern for public health and safety, the Town of Dayton has made the very difficult decision to postpone the 41st Annual Dayton Days Autumn Celebration until October 2, 2021.
We understand how important this festival is to vendors, participants, Dayton retail businesses, and to the community as a whole.
We held out hope all year that we would be in the position to host the festival as planned and have carefully monitored the COVID-19 situation. The CDC has listed the highest risk for the spread of Covid-19 as large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart. The safety and well-being of our participants and the community must be our top priority. Unfortunately, we have determined that it is not safe to proceed.
Much research and deliberation went into the decision making process, including:
- When we previously decided to move forward, it was based on the projections that the threat of COVID-19 would have passed. We knew there was a possibility of a fall resurgence, so we postponed financial commitments. Unfortunately, COVID-19 continues to surge in many parts of the country and it is very likely that it will still be a threat in October.
- We draw vendors and shoppers from outside our immediate area, including other states in the mid-Atlantic region, which could increase the likelihood of a COVID-19 outbreak/community spread.
- We were at the point of needing to put down deposits, expending funds, and beginning to spend significant staff time planning if we are to move forward.
- Current Phase III Guidelines would require:
- Additional signage.
- Crowd size not to exceed 1000 patrons.
- Ten feet of physical distance between participants who are not in same household. Lines for food and crafts would need to allow for six feet in between patrons and we would need to place markers on ground. We would have to navigate pedestrian traffic in a flow pattern so that all are going in same direction (one direction down Main, the other direction down College). Patrons would be encouraged or required to wear face masks.
- Special consideration for transportation would be necessary. Speaking with the transportation company we use for bus service, we were informed that, while they would still be able to accommodate our needs for Dayton Days, it would be very different this year. Under current guidelines, they would only be able to transport 50% of their normal occupancy at one time. Temperatures would be taken of each passenger prior to allowing entry and face masks would be required and would therefore need to be supplied on the buses. Buses would need to be wiped down after each trip. Even if we could secure additional buses, we would expect back-ups and it would not be possible for people to practice social distancing at bus stops. If we don’t provide transportation, it would be difficult to find parking in the area, greatly reducing the number of participants, frustrating thousands of potential shoppers & vendors, and harming the future of the event.
- Special consideration for golf carts, eating areas/tables, and port-a-johns would also be necessary. Under current guidelines, bathrooms and port-a-johns would need to be cleaned and disinfected every two hours. We would need to rent an increased number of hand washing stations to set up throughout. Tables & chairs would need to be wiped down at least every two hours. Golf carts will need to be wiped down and disinfected after each passenger. They would only be allowed to carry passengers that are in the same household at one time.
- All volunteers will need to wear a face mask/shield and gloves. Depending on the temperature, this could lead to overheating and volunteers may need to be scheduled in shorter shifts. We would need to order a large supply of masks, gloves, sanitizer, wipes, paper towels, cleaning supplies and disinfectant.
- Sound equipment would need to be cleaned and disinfected between bands.
- VDH would direct as to any special instructions/requirements they will have for food vendors.
- Deposits would be required for golf carts and portable toilets soon.
- It is anticipated that construction on the Mill Street Project will be in progress and not yet completed, which will interfere with the vendor locations, especially if we need to space vendors 10 feet apart under the Phase III guidelines.
- Schools have recently announced that children will only be attending school two days per week at the beginning of the school year. It seems strange to invite 30,000+ people to our town at a time when families are already making huge sacrifices in everyday activities.
Please understand that this is a very difficult and unprecedented decision, but one we feel is necessary to prevent further COVID-19 outbreaks. We do not want to be responsible for an outbreak, especially given the expected crowd size and distance people travel. In addition to endangering public health, it would harm the reputation of the Town and its much loved event.
Although we could use CARES Act funding for some of the additional expenses related to the event, we do not know at this time what the return on investment would be for the Town or its businesses, as we do not know what the COVID-19 situation will be in early October and therefore do not know how many vendors or shoppers we would have. We believe direct grants to the businesses or a long-term dedicated marketing initiatives would benefit the businesses more in the long-run.
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