SPRUCE PINE — The 61st annual North Carolina Mineral and Gem Festival has been canceled as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
The annual festival, which was slated to run from July 30 to Aug. 2, has an estimated $1 million impact on Mitchell County.
The Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors made the decision official Friday, July 24 by issuing a press release.
“The decision to host the event this year was not made lightly,” the release read. “The prevailing thought that our community and our small businesses need the event to take place to help the local economy and support our small businesses during this trying year was the overarching reason for the board’s decision to move ahead with planning.”
The chamber planned to utilize a long list of safety precautions that were designed using guidance from the Mitchell County Health Department and Toe River Health District.
Initially, the board believed the event could still proceed with precautions in place but after gauging the anxiety of the community, the decision was made to cancel.
In light of the cancelation, the chamber encourages Mitchell County citizens to designate July 30 through Aug. 2 as “we love Mitchell County days” and go out into the community to spend money and support local businesses.
“It will be up to our local citizens to help our businesses during the cancelation of this event,” the release read.
President of the Mitchell County Chamber Board of Directors DeLee Scott said the decision to cancel was difficult.
"The hope of helping our hurting economy through increased revenue for our community from the festival was at the forefront of each chamber board member‘s mind," Scott said. "The safety concerns were not taken lightly as extensive safety measures were put into place. The Mitchell County Chamber and its board appreciate each and every one of you who look to bring a positive and willing spirit to future events that help our community."
The next NC Mineral and Gem Festival is set for Aug. 5-8, 2021.