By STEVEN MURREY
The annual Frankton Heritage Days Festival is moving forward, FHD’s board president Aaron Hymes said Wednesday.
The festival – set for Sept. 18, 19, and 20 – is no stranger to chaos, caused by events outside of festival planners’ control. In 2018, the FHD Board of Directors, forced to act on the fly, relocated the festival from the Heritage Days field due to flooding, only days before the opening ceremony.
Hymes says the festival will see fewer vendors due to hardships brought on by the pandemic, which he sees as a positive as it allows vendors to be spaced further apart than usual.
“This situation has been a little different [than previous years],” Hymes said. “It’s been a lot of hurry up and wait.”
“We are very much watching what the governor says, and what he mandates,” says Hymes. “If things close down before the festival, we’ll have no option.”
Hymes says the board is meeting every two weeks and abiding by a 27-point plan to prepare for the festival.
“At this point, it’s a calculated risk. With fewer vendors, we feel like we can spread out more to follow social distancing recommendations. Some folks think ticket sales will be down, and others think that since so much else has been canceled, we’ll have a very busy year,” states Hymes.
“People are anxious to get out, and you can see that,” Hymes adds. “There’s a little cabin-fever, but people are still concerned.”
Hymes notes that because the festival is in a rural area, away from dense populations, the festival can proceed safely.
This year, the Frankton Heritage Days shuttles will be cleaned and serviced approximately every two hours. Additionally, signs will encourage social distancing and mask-wearing, and sanitizer will be readily available.
“All we can do at this point is to take the precautions we are taking, and work with the health department in making sure we’re on the same page,” says Hymes.
Hymes says a limited number of free masks will also be provided to those who ask for them.
“We are asking people to take personal responsibility and use good judgment.”
Hymes says this year, the festival will lean on volunteers more so than previous years. Volunteers will be tasked with cleaning surfaces, tables, and bathrooms.
New to the festival this year will be the Cincinnati Circus, which will host several different shows over the three-day event.
The parade will also look a little different. Participants will not hand out candy, stickers, or flyers.
“We’re going to err on the side of safety,” states Hymes. “When it comes to should we do this or shouldn’t we do this. Everyone needs to make a decision that is best for them.”