June 17, 2020, Hope, Arkansas, The Hope-Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce board & executive director along with additional community leaders came to a consensus today that the 44th Annual Hope Watermelon Festival should be canceled.
The festival has been a longstanding favorite not only in Arkansas but also for those who travel to Hope for the 2 ½ day event. The festival also offered the opportunity for “events within the event” to take place year after year. Therefore, every area of the festival from entry gates to the festival’s economic impact was discussed during today’s Zoom meeting prior to the decision being made.
The Arkansas State Health Department provided directives/restrictions for planning & implementing a festival of this size. All attendees including everyone who worked the festival would have been asked to abide by every restriction in place, so as to move forward in full awareness of what is playing out before us due to COVID-19.
Beckie Moore, Hope-Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce Director, commented, “We made our decision based on multiple factors. First and foremost the decision to cancel was based on care and concern for our community and for those traveling to Hope to attend the festival. Being aware of vendors and concessions that join us from other states as well as tourists who visit the festival, stay in hotels and eat in a variety of restaurants, canceling the festival was the best for all involved.
Being ever cognizant of how the virus has reordered our business climate, the chamber knew this would not be an appropriate time to seek sponsorship funds from businesses and industries in our community. On a lighter note, there will be festival t-shirts created for our canceled festival that will be sold in variety of downtown locations.”