MARION POSTPONES JULY EVENTS; PLANS AUGUST "COMMUNITY CELEBRATION"
The Town of Marion, in keeping with current and projected CDC guidelines and Governor's Executive Orders, has postponed large-scale public events through July but is planning a "Community Celebration" for August - if the guidelines can be met then.
That means the venerable "Marion Downtown Chili Championship", Friday night block party featuring "Phantom", and the Saturday night concerts usually held the third weekend in July are canceled for this year due to ongoing concerns from Covid-19.
Last month, the Art League of Marion canceled the annual "Hungry Mother Arts & Crafts Festival" held the same weekend, and last week, the Lincoln Theatre canceled shows and performances, including the "Song of the Mountains" tv tapings through at least July as well.
"This isn't a decision we've come to lightly," said Marion Mayor David Helms. "Our staff worked with the downtown restaurants, and we're just not convinced we can even host an event in July because of the restrictions,” said Mayor Helms.
"Our goal is to provide a quality event for our citizens, our guests, our restaurants, and our businesses," said Marion Downtown Executive Director Alexandra Veatch. "This year, with all the issues, from supplies to restrictions, our team made the recommendation to Town Council to cancel,” said Veatch.
The bands slated to play the Saturday night concert are looking to come for the 2021 event. In the meantime, the town is working on bringing live music back to downtown in early August.
"We always believe in better days to come," said Ken Heath, Marion's Director of Community and Economic Development. "With that in mind, we are confident that Marion is ready to come roaring back, and we're here to make that happen,” said Heath. Heath's team is planning a "community celebration weekend" for August 7-9, with street concerts, open-air dining, community booths, food trucks, and shopping specials to coincide with the Virginia Tax-Free Weekend.
And the chili cookoff? "It's a tradition. It started in 1986 when Sam Russell and WMEV thought of a great way to bring people downtown. So we're looking to move the actual chili championship to the first Saturday in October, to tie in with our 'Mountain Dew Day' festival and the Song of the Mountains tv taping. If it works, we might even keep the concerts in July and move the chili to October. It's a good time for us all to try new things, to see what works best for our community,” said Heath.
In the event COVID-19 restrictions won't allow for large community events in August, Marion has a rolling calendar to consider moving the Community Celebration weekend to September.
For the latest information, follow the Town of Marion's Facebook page or visit marionva.org.