With COVID cases on the rise, the City of Madison has announced the cancellation of an upcoming concert in Town Park slated for Saturday, Sept. 18. The city is also considering the fate of the annual Chili-Cook Off competition in late October, but has not decided to cancel the event yet.
“In the interest of our community’s health and safety, the Saturday In The Park event scheduled for Sept. 18 is canceled,” said a release from Karen Robertson, director of Madison Main Street. “We are terribly disappointed as it was a difficult decision, but believe this is the best course of action at this time.”
The event was supposed to be a “high-energy dance party in Madison’s Town Park,” featuring the musical group The Sensational Sounds of Motown.
The Madison Mayor and City Council discussed the matter at the last work session on Friday, Sept. 3.
“We have been very quietly just watching what is happening all across our state with COVID numbers and as well as how other communities are handling it, particularly in communities hosting outdoor events,” said Robertson.
She also noted that Milledgeville has canceled one of their upcoming major festivals due to becoming a hotspot for COVID transmission. Sandersville and other communities have followed suit in canceling large outdoor events in light of the rate of spread of the coronavirus--particularly the highly contagious and more deadly Delta-variant.
“Milledgeville and Baldwin County had a 256 percent increase in cases. They are the hotspot of our region,” said Robertson. “All of their open air outdoor events--everything has been canceled through November.”
Robertson told the Madison Mayor and City Council that due to Morgan County’s rising case numbers and another expected surge in Georgia this winter, it would be best to cancel the event.
“The numbers are going back up this December,” said Robertson. “Other communities have gotten very proactive.”
Madison Mayor Fred Perriman supported canceling the event.
“In the interest of safety, I think we should go ahead and cancel this event...We know what this virus is doing to people, what it is doing to our children,” said Perriman, who noted his own grandson caught COVID at school recently.
Robertson said that Madison Main Street considered mitigation efforts before coming to the decision to cancel. According to Robertson, requiring proof of vaccination or implementing a mask mandate and social distancing would be too difficult to enforce at an event where people are dancing and typically crowd close together. City officials worried that people would not comply with mask mandates or negative COVID test requirements or vaccination proof requirements and that it would be too much for volunteers to enforce.
“We have done our due diligence to consider other options,” said Robertson.
The council has not rendered a decision on the popular annual event, The Chili-Cook, which is slated to take place in Town Park on Saturday, Oct. 23. The council said they would keep a close eye on how COVID spreads in the coming weeks before deciding whether or not to cancel the Chili-Cook Off competition.