RIO GRANDE — The announcement of the cancellation of the Bob Evans Farm Festival was felt across Gallia County and beyond this week. This October would’ve been the 50th anniversary of the popular event which has now been postponed until Fall 2021.
As previously reported, the Gallia County Convention and Visitors Bureau (GCCVB) received a statement this week from Saed Mohseni, president and CEO of Bob Evans Restaurants, regarding the festival, that read:
“The Bob Evans Farm Festival has been part of our history for the last 49 years. Every year we see how much our guests and the surrounding communities love the Farm Festival event, and that is why it is difficult to announce that we will be cancelling this year’s event due to the impact of Covid-19. Based on guidelines established by the state of Ohio for large events and our concern for the safety and comfort of our employees and guests, we believe canceling this event is in the best interest of our community.”
Amanda Crouse, executive director of the GCCVB, stated the festival brings in approximately 20,000 guests, making it the largest event held in the county.
When asked how she felt this decision would impact the county in the short term and longterm, Crouse said, “The festival is the biggest event Gallia County hosts and draws guests from many states to our area so not having the event this year will have a big impact on our local businesses and our bed tax. All of our regional and local lodging facilities are booked the entire weekend. Given the current circumstances with the COVID, we understand their decision. Their first and main concern is the safety of guests, staff, volunteers and vendors and we completely support that. It truly is unfortunate that this happened on their 50th anniversary, my thoughts are with the staff and countless volunteers who have put so much time and effort into the event.”
Rio Grande Mayor Matt Easter said the festival is part of the village’s landscape in autumn and the aesthetics of October will most certainly look different this year.
“It has become an annual trip for people, it’s part of the fall atmosphere here, it’s a loss to our landscape,” Easter said.
However, the mayor also stated, “I totally understand it (the decision to cancel)…”
Some local groups who fund raise during farm festival weekend could possibly be affected, as well as some of the small businesses in the village, according to Easter.
“It will impact our economy on a small scale,” he said.
Easter also helps spearhead the Rockets Over Rio fireworks show that coincides with farm festival weekend. At this point, the show, which is funded completely with donations, is still set to blast off at 9 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 10.
“We felt we should continue on…people need something,” Easter said of offering the familiar fireworks display.
Both Easter and Crouse, along with many others in the community, expressed they were pleased to hear there are plans to return the farm festival in Fall 2021.
“We are relieved to know the festival will return in 2021 and have no doubt it will make a strong comeback and be just as successful as it is every year,” Crouse said.
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Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.