Old-Fashioned Musical Christmas canceled
Wilmore’s Old-Fashioned Musical Christmas won’t happen after all.
The same day this newspaper published an article based on an interview with Parks and Recreation Director Amy Fitch about the city’s plans to go ahead with nearly all of the festival events on Dec. 5, her office announced that the festival had been canceled “to comply with guidance and recommendations of the Jessamine County Health Department.”
“This decision is not made lightly and is with the hope that our community and beloved citizens stay healthy and safe,” the statement said.
In the short, one-page news release, Fitch quoted Randy Gooch, executive director of the Health Department, regarding the county’s incident rates for COVID-19.
Jessamine County is one of more than 90 Kentucky counties that are in the “red zone,” meaning it has cases of the deadly virus in excess of the critical threshold of 25 per 100,000.
Gooch said he and Dr. Steve Davis, the JCHD medical director, recommended that Jessamine County and its cities “should suspend all activities under their organization and control that renders itself to bringing together gatherings of people” of 10 or more.
That would include, but not be limited to adult and youth sporting activities or events, festivals, parades, holiday events and non-commercial vendor markets.
At a minimum, Gooch said, they recommend these activities be suspended until the county’s incidence rate shows at least seven consecutive days in the orange zone.
Fitch’s news release said the city’s Christmas tree lighting would still take place, without an audience, at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5, and that downtown Wilmore would be decorated.
City officials invite people to “do a drive-by viewing of the tree and the downtown lights.”
The Old-Fashioned Musical Christmas had been a Wilmore tradition since the 1990s. The town would close Main Street for the festival, and stores, restaurants and offices would open their shops at night and have a variety of music, as well as refreshments and food.
It also included a 5K run, craft and book fairs, the Christmas tree lighting and a “grand finale” involving the singing of carols at Wilmore First United Methodist Church.
The city had planned to hold the festival this year without food vendors and anticipated a smaller crowd because Asbury University and Asbury Seminary students would be dismissed early this year, at Thanksgiving. Some of the merchants had planned to take precautions such as one-way access. And the city wasn’t going to publicize it as widely as usual because it wanted to keep it as small and local as possible, Fitch said.
In Nicholasville, the Jessamine County Chamber of Commerce also has taken a more cautious approach to Christmas festivities this year. Because of the recent rise in the number of COVID-19 cases and based on the governor’s recommendations, the chamber has decided that there will be no St. Nich Parade.