Founder’s Day in Eddyville is the latest event to be canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Out of an abundance of caution for public health, Mayor John Choat and Eddyville City Council on Monday decided to forgo the 2020 installation of the annual weeklong celebration of the city’s founding. It mirrors decisions in other communities to cancel popular celebrations.
“It really bothers me and hurts me to make this kind of decision, but I don’t see we have another choice,” Choat said.
Founder’s Day was scheduled for Aug. 29. The planning committee has not been able to meet since before spring amid the outbreak, and significant health concerns still remain for large gatherings.
Choat, in seeking the council’s backing in cancelling the event, polled area mayors, read CDC guidance and weighed the advice of the city’s insurance carrier, Kentucky League of Cities counsel and his own city attorney. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists as the highest risk for transmitting COVID-19 at events as “large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area.”
“That’s the very criteria of what Founder’s Day is all about,” said the mayor, noting an uptick in the spread of the virus nationwide, including several new cases in Lyon County over the last couple of weeks.
Founder’s Day typically includes a parade, live entertainment throughout the week, a beauty pageant, community worship service, pet show, inflatables and athletic competitions, all of which include at least a moderate risk for spreading the potentially deadly virus.
“Unless you have assurance for 100% compliance at any event, which is unrealistic, you have to err on the side of caution,” said City Attorney Steve Underwood. “I have a lot of concerns about the exposure the municipality has if you go forward (with Founder’s Day.)”
Councilman Mike Greene agreed with the decision, citing a no-win position before the council unanimously voted to shut down all events associated with the celebration. Ultimately, no one on the council was willing to risk public health over the possible unpopularity of cancelling Founder’s Day.
“I think it’s a catch-22,” he said. “You’re gonna have people complain no matter what you do.”