The coronavirus pandemic, which has already forced the cancellation of a number of high-profile events scheduled for the spring and summer, has claimed a major event that has kicked off the area’s fall celebrations for five decades.
The Centerville Recreation Council has announced that its annual Labor Day Fun Fair and Cruise-In won’t be held because of virus concerns.
Council President Kevin Kline said it was a decision that he felt had to be made.
“We took into consideration the safety of our township and Bedford County, because we have people coming to this thing from all over,” he said.
“There isn’t much that we can do to protect people at something this size as far as social distancing,” he said. “We have ice cream lines that are 100 yards long and two people deep all day,” he said. “It just wasn’t a sensible thing this year.”
Kline, who has headed the recreation council since he was in high school, said this would have been the 48th year for the event.
In a way, this year it became a victim of its own success. In addition to the car show, the festival usually goes through about 150 gallons of ice cream and 800 half-chickens, and includes musical entertainment and an auction.
“It wasn’t something I took lightly,” Kline said.
But in addition to the large crowds that gather, Kline said he also had to take into account the safety of the volunteers. Last year, he said, there were 33 people who helped out.
“We have a lot of helpers, and a lot of them are elderly,” he said.
And, while the virus has barely made an impact in Cumberland Valley, he said visitors come from all over Pennsylvania and surrounding states.
“We have people who started doing their vacations so they could come to our event,” he said.
“I’d feel terrible if I went ahead … and started something.”
Losing the event will have a big impact on the rec council’s finances, but it’s not something that can’t be overcome, he said. But it has forced the council to look elsewhere to raise some money.
“We’ve never had fundraisers, because we’ve always had Labor Day.
The first event on the council’s calendar will be a spaghetti dinner on July 29 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the rec center. Meals will be available both for drive-in or carry-out.
Kline said a hoagie sale also is planned. Details will be available on the council’s Facebook site.
He emphasized that the event is pausing only for this year.
“We’ll be back next year as strong as ever,” he said. “Bedford County, and Centerville, are strong-willed, hard-working people,” he said. “That’s what draws a lot of people to Bedford County to live.”