Major summer events wiped off calendar

File photo The stage at Taste of Country 2017 at Hunter Mountain. The big country music festival, renamed TrailBlazer, is among several large entertainment gatherings in the area canceled because of the coronavirus.

One of the nation’s biggest country music gatherings, a renowned bluegrass festival and the historic Athens Street Festival are among the local major events that won’t happen this summer due to health concerns stemming from the coronavirus.

“We do have large events that have been canceled, for example, TrailBlazer,” Greene County Director of Tourism Heather Bagshaw said. “That does hinder the ability to sustain our sales tax revenue that we would have had should [the festival] have taken place.”

The TrailBlazer Festival at Hunter Mountain, originally scheduled for June 12-14, formerly known as Taste of Country, was a Greene County mainstay for seven years. Festival organizers announced the name change and introduced new management in 2019. This would have been the festival’s first year under the new name.

“We are disappointed to announce that TrailBlazer Festival will no longer be taking place this summer,” according to organizers. “The well-being of our fans, staff, artists, vendors, partners and the community is always our No. 1 priority. Given the current factors at play, we do not see a clear path forward to producing this new festival experience for you in 2020.”

Luke Bryan, Thomas Rhett and Dierks Bentley were the planned headliners.

The Grey Fox Bluegrass Music Festival, scheduled for July 15-19 in Oak Hill, became another COVID casualty.

“After monitoring the COVID-19 situation for months, and with the health and safety of all our guests in mind, the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, scheduled for July 15-19 in Oak Hill, NY, has decided that an in-person, live event cannot be held this year,” according to organizers. “This is a first in the festival’s 35-year history.”

A virtual event called The Spirit of Grey Fox 2020 is planned for the same weekend in July.

Greene County hopes to partner with the festival, Bagshaw said.

“We are hoping there might be some way to capitalize on that because it is virtual,” Bagshaw said. “We are looking at how to partner with Grey Fox to be able to encourage visitors to come when it is safe, encouraging them to stay at one of the local resorts in the Oak Hill area when it is safe for visitors to come.”

The 43rd annual East Durham Irish Festival, scheduled for May 23-24, will not happen.

“It is with a heavy heart we announce that our East Durham Irish Festival will no longer be taking place this year,” according to organizers. “The safety of our artists, fans and staff are of utmost importance. We thank you all for your support and understanding. Tickets will be refunded.”

The Athens Street Festival, scheduled for July 11, was canceled in an announcement Monday.

“We are saddened due to COVID-19 the Street Festival Committee has made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s festival,” according to the organizers. “This decision is not done lightly. But in the best interest, for the health of our community and recommended guidelines from the CDC, state and local authorities, we must protect our people.”

The Greene County Youth Fair, in its 66th year, is waiting for direction from the state, Greene County Agricultural Society President Alex Johnk said.

“Everything is still up in the air.” he said. “We have no say one way or the other. We are waiting on direction from state agencies on what to do.”

The fair is scheduled to take place July 23-26. The board will make its decision by June 1, Johnk said.

The Columbia County Board of Tourism has shifted its focus from attracting visitors to encouraging county residents to support local businesses.

Amy Farrell, promotion specialist for the Board of Tourism, said many events have been canceled and removed from the calendar.

Lebanon Valley Speedway, Columbia County’s largest tourist attraction, has a huge delay in opening, Farrell said.

“Everything is unfortunately being canceled or postponed,” Farrell said. “Unfortunately, Mac-Haydn Theatre has been closed for the season. I don’t believe they’re going to be opening at all, so that’s a big loss.”

MacHaydn planned to stage the musicals “The Man of La Mancha,” “42nd Street,” “The Most Incredible Thing,” “Parade,” “Snow White and the Prince,” “Rock of Ages” and “The Sound of Music.”

“This decision did not come lightly and has weighed heavily upon me since this crisis began,” MacHaydn Producing Artistic Director John Saunders said. “I am nothing if not an optimist, but I have realized that the most important thing is the health and safety of our audience, artists, volunteers and staff.”

Other venues in the county suspended in-person gatherings. Hudson Hall’s events will be rescheduled for later dates.

Helsinki Hudson had to close its restaurant and nightclub, and suspended special events. The venue is instead holding virtual open mic nights every Tuesday at 7 p.m. on YouTube.

“While we are saddened that at such a time and under such a threat when we need each other more than ever, the medical and scientific facts rule against us being together in physical space,” according to a statement from the venue. “In order to best ensure the safety and well-being of our patrons, our staff, and our visiting musicians — many of whom have already taken themselves off the road for the time being — we seek to develop alternative ways of fostering community in this time of crisis.”

The Basilica Farm + Flea Spring Market, scheduled for Mother’s Day weekend in Hudson, has been canceled.

For the past four years, Basilica Farm + Flea has brought together over 100 local and independent vendors in May and November.

Some events could be rescheduled, including the Hudson Berkshire Wine & Food Festival, which is being moved to Oct. 17-18, Director of the Hudson Berkshire Beverage Trail Karen Gardy said.

The festival is in a unique situation because the Hudson Berkshire Beverage Trail crosses state lines.

The Hudson Berkshire Wine & Food Festival has to obtain special permits to have out-of-state vendors and producers attend the festival. Many festivalgoers are from downstate or Boston.

“We have two states that we have to keep an eye on to make sure we can get everything on a new schedule,” Gardy said.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been collaborating with governors from New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island to coordinate reopening on a regional level.

“Because of where our guests come from — and we have anywhere from 7,000 to 10,000, which is certainly not the amount like a county fair would have, but because of where they come from, I think it’s extremely helpful for me to figure out what’s going on in both states,” Gardy said.

Farrell said the Copake Bicycle Auction was already postponed from April to June, and may have to be postponed again.

“We’re being directed by I Love New York, every county is not, at this point, allowed to promote people to come to us,” Farrell said. “That’s what we do. Our goal is to promote from the outside to come to Columbia County.”

Farrell said the focus now is to promote shopping, eating and visiting locally. Some businesses are sharing what they do virtually by giving tours or sharing instructional videos.

“We’re trying to do what we can to have people look in their backyard, promote within, visit within, because technically we really shouldn’t be traveling at this time,” Farrell said.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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