Founders Day, Apple Harvest call it quits

Four of the biggest fall festivals within driving distance of Hampshire County have also been called off for 2021 and a 5th is being scaled back.

Founders was to begin Friday night, Sept. 24 and run Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 25-26.

The same weekend was scheduled for the 68th annual Hardy County Heritage Weekend and the Leaf Peepers Festival in Tucker County.

Organizers of both said last week that they’re canceled this year.

So are a pair of apple butter festivals – in Burlington on Oct. 2-3 and in Berkeley Springs a week later.

The next weekend, Oct. 16-17, is Garrett County’s big Autumn Glory Festival. Oakland announced last week that it still plans to host the parade on Oct. 16, a Saturday. But other events, including the craft fair and fireman’s parade, have been called off.

Like nearly every organizer involved in the 6 festivals, Capon Bridge’s Peg McMaster said the decision to cancel was sad, but necessary in the face of the Covid-19 virus’s delta and mu variants.

“This was a tough decision,” she said, “as many people have participated in the planning of a highly anticipated festival.” 

Burlington United Methodist Family Services expressed similar regrets and concerns.

“In the end, the safety of the volunteers as well as the visitors to the festival were taken into consideration,” Communications Director Cindy Pyles said.

Burlington’s decision was also fueled by some of the lingering after-effects of a fire in April 2020 that destroyed much of its unique equipment for making apple butter.

A machinist in New York who was hand-crafting a new apple peeler has been unable to get some of the finishing parts, Pyles said.

“This is a commercial grade, one-of-a-kind machine that makes the production of nearly 2,000 gallons of butter needed for the festival,” she noted. That’s in addition to the hundreds of volunteers working together the week prior to the event.

“The spread of Covid just makes our work too dangerous,” Pyles said.

The story was much the same in Hardy County for Heritage Weekend.

“We cannot, in good faith, host an event,” organizers said on the event’s website. “This was not a decision that was taken lightly and was made only after conversing with local health officials.”

In Tucker County, similar reasons were reported.

“This is the safest decision,” the Alpine Festival Board that organizes Leaf Peepers posted on Facebook.

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