The 2020 Kentucky Apple Festival has officially been canceled due to the COVID-19 virus.

The decision was announced in a social media post on Friday, June 6 by the festival’s board of directors.

The post read, “We understand that many of you are looking forward to the event and this is frustrating. However, we must consider the directives of the CDC and state government.”

The post assured that the festival would resume in 2021. No word yet on how this will affect fundraising efforts by local churches, schools, volunteer fire departments and other organizations that set up booths during the annual event.

As of press time on Tuesday, June 9, the post had been shared by over 1,000 people with mixed reactions to the announcement.

Several local officials declined to comment on the recent announcement. However, Paintsville Mayor Bill Mike Runyon spoke up about the decision.

“I hate it. I hate it for churches, I hate it for civic groups, schools, school organizations… even my wife Jamie at OLM,” he stated, “this is a big fundraiser for them.” His wife is the principal at Our Lady of the Mountains School, the learning institution responsible for the festival’s annual Turtle Trot event.

“And of course I hate it for the people of Johnson County. It gives them something to do for three days,” said Runyon.

Chamber of Commerce member and owner of Images by John Michael, John Michael Laney, echoed Runyon’s sentiment about the cancellation of this year’s event.

“It’s very sad that this had to happen but sometimes things are out of our hands,” said Laney. “You do what you have to do to prevent or save lives. This is a time when your downtown business owners plan for their sales to increase. It will hurt our growth. Many people come from everywhere to purchase products from the

Kentucky Apple Festival, antique stores, our Apple Day flea market, our restaurants and food booths. People will miss the Friday and Saturday events. Our parade will also be so missed.”

A statement released to The Paintsville Herald from the Kentucky Apple Festival Board stated, “Sadly, Apple Day will not take place this year. It is unfortunate for those who depend on funds raised and also those who appreciate the hard work that goes into the festical. There were a number of vendors who decided not to set up this year because they were either afraid of COVID-19 or not able to take the financial change that the crowd would be willing to get out. This would have made it hard to proceed with things as usual, as we all know our awesome vendors are what make Apple Day great.”

The statement continued, “The event requires year-long planning and those who understand the financial investments on a larger scale are aware that it is impossible to wait until last minute to make investments and once investments are made, there’s no turning back.”

The statement urged, “Try to remember that the Apple Board is also at a loss and will have to work harder than ever just to bounce back. But rest assured that will happen.”

“Paintsville just had a peaceful protest,” the statement continued, referring to a Black Lives Matter protest that took place downtown on Monday, June 1. “Let’s not start with the ugly negativity already. Let’s be proactive. Be the change you want to see. If you have great idea that will help the Apple Board improve things, please share those and be understanding of the fact that not every angle of decision making is evident. There is always room for improvement, even where the best intentions are given.”

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