CORNING, Ark. (KAIT) - An annual tradition in Northeast Arkansas will have a new feel this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Corning Area Chamber of Commerce canceled the annual parade and picnic celebration after several board meetings discussing COVID-19.
“It was definitely with a heavy heart for a lot of us because it is a tradition that has been going on in Corning for a long time," chamber president Brigitte McDonald says. "It was out of the safety of our community and of course with the Arkansas Department of Health’s directives, we really didn’t feel like we had a choice.”
The board didn’t feel they could provide a safe environment for citizens and visitors, according to McDonald.
Not only does the cancellation put a damper on the city’s traditional festival, it sets back the chamber’s finances.
McDonald says the festival brings in an estimated $25,000-$30,000. The festival funds the chamber for the entire year. She says this isn’t the only financial setback.
“We’ve had three big hits and we’re not even to the Fourth of July yet," she says.
In March, the chamber canceled the business expo. Chamber luncheons also cease to exist during the pandemic.
Although the city sees many changes to their upcoming festival, one thing remains.
The city plans to continue its annual fireworks display July 4, starting at 10 p.m.
McDonald says she’s hopeful next year’s festival exceeds their expectations.
We just want to thank each and every volunteer that’s ever been a part of the Annual Fourth of July Homecoming. Without them, the chamber wouldn’t be able to operate," she says. "We appreciate what they do and we just want their support next year to make our Fourth of July Homecoming Picnic the best it can be.”