Festival of the Mountain Masters in the works

While the coronavirus pandemic continues into October, work to ensure community safety is a top priority for the organizers involved in the 2020 Festival of the Mountain Masters.

In an update about the event, Harlan Tourism Executive Director Brandon Pennington explained that he and his group have been in numerous meetings with elected officials, the Harlan County Health Department, Harlan Tourism Board and others to effectively plan the festival so it follows health guidelines to protect against the spread of COVID-19. Pennington said he has also been monitoring the number of positive cases.

“As of right now, we are planning to move forward on the Festival of the Mountain Masters provided that all of the guidelines and changes to the Festival of the Mountain Masters are practiced and employed by vendors and demonstrators, as well as festival attendees,” he said.

To help maintain social distancing standards, the festival will be taking place at the Harlan Center, where vendors and attendees will be able to safely spread out. It is likely the event will also be spread out through the downtown area to help with vendor overflow.

“Please understand that we are doing everything we can to make this festival happen, however, we can not control unforeseen circumstances that may occur between now and the actual festival,” Pennington said. “With that being said, if the number of COVID-19 cases increases to a dangerous level, we still may cancel the festival and refunds will be given to vendors. If numbers continue to decrease, we will still be adhering to this plan no matter the circumstance.”

Specific guidelines for the event include:

  • Limited capacity to 100 vendors/demonstrators and 200 attendees inside the Harlan Center;
  • Front doors will be the only entrance and exit, with volunteers counting the number of festival goers to keep an accurate run of how many people are coming in and out of the building;
  • Temperature checks will be required;
  • Masks will be required;
  • Hand sanitizer will be at the entrance and exit;
  • Vendors and demonstrators will be required to provide hand sanitizer at their booths;
  • Vendors and demonstrators will be socially distanced with six feet between booths. Festival goers must also socially distance;
  • All performances on the stage must be socially distanced;
  • No performance will last longer than 30 minutes, allowing extra time to sanitize and disinfect;
  • No chairs will be set up for the stage;
  • Any vendors/demonstrators and food trucks that can be set up outside will be set up outside;
  • All vendors and demonstrators will receive a set of healthy-at-work guidelines that they must agree to before they can attend the festival.

Pennington said Harlan Tourism will also hire security to help manage the event, deep clean and sanitize the Harlan Center the night before the event, schedule times for vendors to set up, limit restroom usage to single-family restrooms to reduce contact and keep foot traffic flowing in one direction to limit contact between guests.

“Because of the unique circumstances of this year’s event, we are giving the opportunity for stores located within the Village Center Mall that the festival typically takes place in, to also set up for the event in the Harlan Center,” Pennington said.

Harlan Tourism officials are working to send out letters to returning vendors and demonstrators, as well as distributing applications through email and other digital avenues near the end of the week.

“We respect the right of every visitor and vendor/demonstrator to make the choices that are healthiest for them. If you cannot attend the 2020 festival, we look forward to seeing you in 2021,” he said.

You can follow the Festival of the Mountain Masters page on Facebook for more information and the latest updates.

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