The Water Valley Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors voted unanimously Tuesday night to cancel the 51st Annual Watermelon Carnival.
In a press release from the board of directors, the group reported the decision was not an easy one.
“We, the Water Valley Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, consider it a privilege as community leaders to help promote, build and advocate for our local businesses. As we continue to serve our community in this capacity, we feel that it is also our responsibility as community leaders to help protect and keep our community safe by doing our part to flatten the curve caused by the coronavirus pandemic,” the directors explained. “In order to do this, we have decided to cancel this year’s 51st Annual Watermelon Carnival following guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), city, state and other government officials. With the guidelines suggested, the determination was made that they could not be followed in a safe and healthy manner. For this reason, the unfortunate decision has been made to cancel the carnival. While this decision did not come easy, we are still dedicated as ever to uplifting and promoting this community and its businesses. We feel that the safety of the community comes first.”
Chamber President Raymond Hawkins reported that carnival programs and t-shirts will be available and two events that are part of the carnival will not be canceled, the Largest Melon Contest and the Watermelon Carnival Train Tracks Pork Attack. Both events will be closed to the public, but will be live-streamed. The melon contest is an annual highlight and local growers have already invested countless hours growing their monster melons. The barbecue contest was added to the carnival lineup in 2010 and many competitors have already registered for this event, which is sanctioned by the Memphis Barbecue Network.
The news about the carnival cancellation comes as 489 new coronavirus cases were recorded Wednesday, the second highest single-day increase in Mississippi since the pandemic began. In a tweet Wednesday, Governor Tate Reeves expressed concern that people are losing interest in the effort to keep each other safe.
“I’m concerned that people are losing interest in the effort to keep each other safe,” Reeves tweeted. “We are all tired and ready to be done, but the virus doesn’t care.”
Hawkins also said concerns considered by directors as they agonized over the decision included the number of people who would visit the community from other areas, possibly raising the risk of the spread of the virus in Water Valley.