FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. — Another West Virginia tradition has fallen victim to the COVID-19 pandemic with Wednesday’s announcement that Bridge Day 2020, set for Oct. 17, has been cancelled.
The state’s largest one-day festival at the New River Gorge Bridge in Fayette County, which draws approximately 100,000 people, won’t happen for the first time since 2001 when the event was cancelled in the days following 9/11.
The Bridge Day Commission made the decision in a unanimous vote Wednesday morning. Commission Chair Becky Sullivan said they just couldn’t find a way to make the festival work while meeting social distancing guidelines.
“We tried to come up with some new and innovative ways to do Bridge Day and continue on with the traditions but unfortunately, the guidelines, the uncertainty with coronavirus for the rest of this year, it just wasn’t going to work out,” Sullivan told MetroNews.
The commission had already heard from a number of volunteers that they wouldn’t be able to make it this year because of concerns connected with the pandemic.
“Some of them are elderly, some of them have medical complications and have already expressed they would not be able to volunteer this year, so without our community support, our volunteers, our staff, it just wouldn’t be a successful event,” Sullivan said.
The commission has been working on the plans for the last several months. Sullivan said the decision to cancel wasn’t rushed into.
“We did not take this decision lightly at all.”
She added, “With the coronavirus numbers we just had to watch what was happening around us with the State Fair canceling and other events in and around the area, that definitely played a part in our decision making.”
Sullivan said Fayetteville and the New River Gorge area have been busy in recent weeks and visitor numbers are up. She hopes the area will be able to withstand the cancellation of Bridge Day.
Sullivan said it was important to make the decision far enough out from the actual date to give all of those involved in the festival the proper notice of its cancellation. She said Bridge Day would be back bigger and better than ever in October 2021.
Bridge Day averages 300 BASE jumpers from nearly three dozen states as well as 300-plus rappellers.