Although some area events will still be held the remainder of this year, others have been postponed or canceled due to COVID-19.
One of the more popular events that will continue as planned is the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair, which will be held Sept. 30 through Oct. 9.
“It’s an outdoor event, and most of all the activity is outside,” said fair manager Eddie Pitzer. “As far as any event inside a building, like the spelling bee and talent contests, we’ve reduced the amount of seating and spaced it out. People can wear a mask, but it’s not mandated.”
Pitzer also said there will be multiple hand sanitizers and hand-washing stations throughout the fairgrounds for fairgoers to use.
“We’re asking with signage that people respect others and practice social distancing,” Pitzer said.
Last year’s fair was canceled due to COVID-19.
“With COVID, that was pretty much with things all across the country,” Pitzer said. “This year, we’re planning to move forward with it. We encourage people to look at their own situation and evaluate it. If they don’t feel comfortable, they don’t have to attend. But it’s their choice.”
TASTE OF WAYNE
United Way of Wayne County has canceled what was to have been the 31st annual Taste of Wayne.
The Taste of Wayne, usually in October, is a fundraiser for the United Way that involves close to 30 restaurants that gather downtown and provide ticket-holders with food samples.
The pandemic also led to a reinvented Taste of Wayne in 2020 that involved residents purchasing $15 coupon books to use at participating restaurants, which offered food samples, by the end of the year, said Ashlee Fritz, United Way resource development director.
“Last year we were in the thick of it (pandemic), and we were lucky enough in the beginning of the year to recognize that it wasn’t going away,” she said. “It went OK last year.”
But with the more recent surge in COVID-19 variants, the United Way board decided to cancel the Taste of Wayne this year.
“Our board of directors collectively gathered information over the past couple weeks and from the progression of the variant, to take the precautionary measures, public safety and health are first and foremost with us with any kind of event that we put on,” Fritz said.
“We certainly wouldn’t want to cause an outbreak or encourage people to come out and then get sick. It’s unfortunate and very disappointing, but it’s also a little bit of relief I think for our restaurants that have shouldered a lot of the brunt of COVID, hits with staffing and supplies, things like that that they couldn’t control and are still suffering from.”
The annual Chili Cookoff, a popular fall event in downtown Goldsboro, has been canceled for a second year.
The event is a fundraiser for the Community Soup Kitchen of Goldsboro.
“Due to COVID and the delta variant and hospitalizations and vaccinated and unvaccinated people, I felt we needed to keep the Chili Cookoff dormant one more year,” said Doricia Benton, Soup Kitchen director.
“Hopefully, we’ll get back to normal in 2022. But we have a lot of citizens that come to the event, sometimes as many as 1,000, in one area. I wanted it to be safe.”
Benton said that with the event taking place in October, it looked like things were leveling off somewhat.
“Then it reared its ugly head,” she said. “It was a hard decision, but the right decision. I don’t want to be a spread. That’s a lot of people, and then you’re exchanging food, spoons, cups. I felt like all the way around, it would not be safe for everyone.”
The Chili Cookoff normally brings in between $20,000 and $25,000, Benton said. To help make up for the loss, she sent out letters for sponsors last year and will do so again this year.
The public can help by making donations of food and paper products. The Soup Kitchen, at 112 W. Oak St., Goldsboro, is still in takeout-only mode.
READING BETWEEN THE WINES
The 10th annual Reading Between the Wines that was scheduled to be held Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. at the Paramount Theatre has been postponed.
The event is a fundraiser for Literacy Connections of Wayne County. Because of the pandemic, it was held virtually last year.
“After careful consideration, discussions with our board and with our guests, Ann and Bland Simpson, we have agreed the only wise decision is to postpone Reading Between the Wines 2021,” said Lee Hulse, Literacy Connections program director.
“We did not come to this decision lightly, but to quote Mr. Simpson, this event should be ‘joyous and positive, not worrisome, verging on unsafe.’ With that said, we will postpone Reading Between the Wines until we can safely gather and celebrate in true Reading Between the Wines style.”
Hulse said an alternate date has not been set yet.