Handshake Promise entertains at the 2019 Phil Campbell Hoedown. This past year’s stage was silent as the annual festival fell to the ongoing pandemic.

Summer won’t be the same this year

It’s understandable. It was the right decision. But it’s still so sad the things we are losing to the coronavirus this year.

Summer is an interesting time to work for a newspaper, particularly one like the Franklin County Times. We try to provide thorough education and sports coverage, since our schools are arguably the hub of our communities – but in summer, of course, those types of stories are in short supply.

It’s in the summer, however, that we get to really dig deep into other community activities, like our local festivals, city-sponsored gatherings and special programs for children.

Summer won’t be the same this year.

Two summer festivals have already been cancelled: Russellville’s Jam on Sloss Lake and the Phil Campbell Hoedown.

I’m sure, like me, you saw it coming, but it was still a bummer to realize these two cornerstone events will be missing from our Franklin County summer.

I haven’t gotten to personally attend the past couple of years, but I have so loved seeing the pictures taken by our talented freelancers. Community festivals are truly one of my favorite things of all time. I love the fun and fellowship, the chance to freely roam about and enjoy local music, fried foods, friends and the great outdoors. I love how it’s all steeped in time-honored tradition and brings such a flavor of fun to the summer months.

Franklin County is the first community I’ve been a part of where these festivals were in such great supply. It’s so wonderful that each city boasts its own rendition.

I wish that was still true this year.

With the Hoedown and Jam already off the table, I don’t know about you, but I have to wonder about the rest. Will Vina’s July Fest be able to go on as scheduled? Will things be back to normal by September for Red Bay Founders Fest? Will we be facing a second wave of the virus by October, threatening the Spirit of Hodges Festival and Spruce Pine Day?

And for certain, I hope the coronavirus doesn’t take the Watermelon Festival from us.

These gatherings represent all the best things about Franklin County: the community spirit, the neighborliness, the joy we find in being together, supporting local sellers and craftsman and just truly engaging.

I don’t want us to lose that. And I don’t think we will; our community-mindedness runs deeper than a few local festivals.

But summer 2020 just won’t be the same.