Clarkesville cancels Mountain Laurel Festival

(photo by Carson Sprinkle)

Clarkesville has canceled this year’s Mountain Laurel Festival. The festival committee made the decision late Wednesday, according to Mayor Barrie Aycock.

“For those of us in the ‘downtown’ business, special events showcase our communities for residents and visitors, so this was a difficult but necessary decision,” says Aycock. “We appreciate the community’s understanding as we continue to stand united during this challenging season.” Plans for staging the 58th Mountain Laurel Festival in 2021 will begin early next year, Aycock added.

The announcement came just hours after Cornelia Mayor John Borrow announced the cancellation of this year’s Big Red Apple Festival. The Cornelia City Commission canceled the town’s signature event over concerns about COVID-19.

Thousands of yellow rubber ducks are dropped into the Soque River at Pitts Park in Clarkesville during the VFL Duck Race in 2017. (Daniel Purcell/Now Habersham)

While Aycock did not go into specifics, the decision comes amid a rise in coronavirus cases and deaths in Georgia. The Mountain Laurel Festival had already been moved from May to September because of the pandemic. It’s Clarkesville’s largest annual event and the state’s oldest festival of its kind.

Local nonprofit Volunteers for Literacy of Habersham County had planned to hold its annual duck race fundraiser in conjunction with this year’s festival. “The Dec-A-Duck contest is on. Those entries will be judged and awarded,” says VFL Duck Race Chair Johnny Bailey. “The actual race itself, the board will have to decide if it’s safe enough to have the race or if we will have to do a random drawing.”

Tickets for the fundraiser may be purchased online at vflhabersham.com.

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Cornelia cancels this year’s Big Red Apple Festival

This article has been udpated with comments from Clarkesville Mayor Barrie Aycock

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