Fall Creek Fall’s annual celebration of Upper Cumberland heritage and culture will not take place this year.
The 42nd annual Mountaineer Folk Festival is cancelled. Fall Creek Falls Park Manager Jacob Young said after reviewing large group gathering safety guidelines, he and the park board were afraid they could not keep everyone safe.
“With the amount of staff that we had to offer, we were worried about restrooms and taking temperatures of the vendors and making sure that we did that on a consistent basis,” Young said. “We’re already having a hard time with large groups, the last few months [we’ve seen] very large groups of people. Some of them are practicing social distancing and wearing a mask, and some of them are not.”
Young said food vendors were already cancelling after calculating food and prep costs. He said each year there are between 100 and 200 food and craft vendors. Over 15,000 visitors drive to Fall Creek Falls during the festival weekend.
Because the festival attracts so many visitors, Young said the local economy could take a financial hit. He said the surge of people visiting the September event helps stimulate local businesses. The festival takes place every year the weekend after Labor Day.
“It’s going to affect people, yes,” Young said. “It’s going to affect the community, the stores, local businesses probably won’t get as high of a visitation on that particular weekend, and we did worry about that. We have volunteer groups that set up for this festival and they make a lot of their yearly revenues and operating money off of the event.”
The Mountaineer Folk Festival celebrates the history of the Cumberland Plateau. Traditional music, handmade crafts and food, and weaving are just some of the sights and smells the festival brings to the area. Young said the park plans to host the event next year.