Florence cancels IW Fair

Published 7:45 pm Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Storm uncertainty forced decision Tuesday

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Isle of Wight County officials have reluctantly canceled the fair due to the pending storm.

Tonight’s annual Seafood Fest is still on. 

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The fair was scheduled to begin Thursday night, coinciding with whatever portion of Hurricane Florence comes to Southeast Virginia. 

On Monday, county officials had planned to wait until Wednesday night to call it off, but by Tuesday morning it was cancelled. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

By then, the National Hurricane Center had declared Florence to be a Category 4 storm and rainfall amounts of 7-10 inches were predicted for the Isle of Wight area. 

Fair Chairman Danny Byrum, in a special Board of Supervisors meeting Monday evening, was reluctant to cancel the fair because it was the 25th anniversary, and because of the impact on future fairs once one is cancelled — especially if the weather didn’t turn out to be bad. Also, there was concern about the loss of revenue from ticket sales and money already paid out to entertainers, vendors and others. Byrum estimated that ticket sales could be about $190,000 over the four-day period. Byrum said tickets purchased in advance could be refunded. 

Isle of Wight County Sheriff James Clarke warned Byrum that his agency would be unable to assist with security due to the storm, and that Suffolk had already pulled the command vehicle typically used by Isle of Wight at the fair. 

Isle of Wight County Emergency Services Chief Jeff Terwilliger said his staff would be committed to 12-hour shifts as well. 

In the midst of the conversation it was pointed out that Gov. Ralph Northam had ordered mandatory evacuations of Zone A residents, and the Board of Supervisors went ahead and declared a state of emergency. The resolution allows the county to take emergency measures and streamlines the process of obtaining supplies, if needed, said Isle of Wight Assistant County Administrator Don Robertson.  {/mprestriction}