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Businesses face financial uncertainty as festivals canceled, postponed amid pandemic

“It’s important now more than ever that people are supporting local business, supporting local nonprofits."

NEW ALBANY, Ind. — Harvest Homecoming was set for it’s 51st year this fall, but as concerns of safety continue amid the coronavirus pandemic, organizers have decided to cancel the event.

“It was probably one of the most difficult meetings we’ve ever had,” said Courtney Lewis, Chair of the Harvest Homecoming Board.

Lewis said the move comes after months of meetings with state and local officials amid the pandemic.

“We just felt it was in the best interest of our sponsors, of the vendors, and of our volunteers to make sure that we made a responsible and reasonable decision as early as we could,” she said.

She said for her, it was especially difficult to make the decision knowing that it could cut income for businesses already struggling amid the coronavirus shut down.

“So many local businesses really do depend on Harvest Homecoming every year,” said Lewis.

According to Lewis, the festival brings $1 to $2 million into the community every year. Now, her team is working to find a new way to replace that revenue.

“Our volunteers are still working. We’re still meeting. We’re trying to come up with ways that we can still make an impact on our community and help those businesses, those nonprofits that rely on us every year,” she said.

The call to cancel comes as many other events face similar issues. The Indiana State Fair has been canceled, many local fairs have been canceled, and Jeffersonville pushed it’s Abbey Road on the River festival to October.

“The last thing that I think any business is wanting right now is more uncertainty,” said Wendy Dant Chesser with One Southern Indiana.

But that’s what they’re faced with as postponements and cancellations continue roll in.

“Unfortunately, I expect that we’re going to see more of this until we have a clear understanding of what our public health risk really is,” said Chesser.

As the uncertainty continues, Chesser and Lewis are encouraging community members to step in and help.

“One of the easiest things we can do is continue to spend dollars,” said Chesser.

“I think it’s important now more than ever that people are supporting local business, supporting local nonprofits,” said Lewis.

►Contact reporter Abby Lutz at alutz1@whas11.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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