SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE – The Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce (SMLRCC) today announced it will reschedule its 32nd annual wine festival due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the region and across the country.
“This is the absolute last thing we wanted to do,” said SMLRCC Executive Director Andy Bruns, “but all of the data concerning infection rates and hospitalizations points to the fact that it’s the responsible thing to do. In the past month, cases per 100,000 people were up 639 percent in Bedford County and 2,231 percent in Franklin County, primarily due to the surging Delta variant.”
The festival, which is the Chamber’s largest non-dues fundraiser with proceeds used to grow and develop programs to promote tourism and business in the lake region, is now scheduled for Sept. 17-18, 2022, at Mariners Landing.
Bruns said the vast majority of the bands are being rebooked for the new dates and will announce finalized details in the coming days. All tickets already purchased will be honored on the new dates, Bruns said, so patrons are encouraged to hold on to their tickets as he expects the event to sell out in 2022. Ticket holders may also request a refund (minus service fees charged by the ticketing company) by emailing [email protected].
“It’s disappointing because ticket sales have been strong with transactions coming from 13 different states and more than 160 different ZIP codes,” Bruns said. “But the Chamber’s board of directors was in agreement that the health and safety of festival goers was of paramount importance.
“The Smith Mountain Lake region has been, and continues to be, an extremely safe place for friends and families to visit during the entire pandemic. But as an organization we cannot ignore the stark health and safety differences between a small group of folks renting a condo or house for a lake visit, and a festival with thousands of people all in one place for several hours.”
Bruns added, “It became obvious that taking a wait-and-see attitude was not an option anymore, and we’re not alone. A number of events locally, regionally and across the country have been cancelled because of the COVID-19 surge fueled by the Delta variant. We have been monitoring it for a while now, hoping the trends would change, unfortunately they only became worse.”