2018 NC Muscadine Festival Cancelled Due to Storm Florence
KENANSVILLE — The impact of Hurricane Florence has led to the decision to cancel the 2018 North Carolina Muscadine Festival.
The decision was made Thursday morning (Sept. 20) by the festival’s Board of Directors. The 14th annual festival celebrating the cultural heritage of the state’s official grape and it’s flourishing muscadine wine industry had been scheduled for next week (Sept. 28-29) at the Duplin County Events Center.
“Several important factors were involved in the Board’s decision,” said Festival Director Debby Scott. “None were any more important than the ongoing human impact that many in our area are still experiencing. We know many folks right here in Duplin County have personal, family and property priorities that would make holding the festival seem inappropriate.”
The Board considered a postponement of the festival, but no suitable compromise date could be found between now and the time Thanksgiving and Christmas seasonal events will begin. The Events Center has other events scheduled on several weekends coming up, including the Duplin County Agribusiness Fair and several private events. Wineries also have weekends throughout the fall scheduled for other events and festivals.
Some of the other factors the Board considered included:
• Uncertainty in the Events Center’s availability: The Center is currently being used as a regional staging area and shelter for out-of-area power company crews that are here to restore electric service to households and businesses in southeastern North Carolina that remain without power. Duplin County Manager Davis Brinson also advised the festival board that even if crews vacate the Center sometime next week, the Events Center’s grounds and indoor facilities would need to be addressed from damages by the storm and from storage and use of the facility by those workers. Setup for the festival typically begins on Monday before the festival.
• Several wineries that had been scheduled to participate have said they would be unable to attend this year, or have suffered losses and damages themselves due to the storm. The storm has also created issues for some wineries that were in the midst of their all-important fall harvest season.
• The festival’s sound and stage provider said, while he anticipates being able to provide the festival with his services, that his crew evacuated the Wilmington area and he is awaiting the return of the company’s soundstage that is currently in Georgia.
• While flooding in roadways may have receded by next week, many roads are damaged from washouts and the safety of those traveling both locally and from other areas of the state and east coast is a concern for the board. Brinson also said the county’s Emergency Services team also expressed concern for travelers’ safety.
• Cancellation of reservations by one local hotel was cited by at least one vendor as a reason for not being able to attend. Some other hotels did respond that previous reservations would still be honored. Some victims of the storm are said to be staying in local hotels.
“It was a difficult decision for the board as this will present an adverse financial situation for the festival,” Scott said. “We are offering those who have prepaid the option of carrying their prepayments over to the 2019 festival. However, we are prepared to offer refunds to ticket holders, vendors, tailgaters, and others who have prepaid for attending the festival.”
This article provided by the N.C. Muscadine Festival.