CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Each year, more than 150 fairs and festivals are held in West Virginia. Last year, almost all of them were forced to cancel due to the pandemic.

Fairs and festivals are a long-standing tradition in the Mountain State, and the Governor’s announcement today had event organizers excited for some normalcy.

President of the West Virginia Association of Fairs and Festivals, Kelly Collins says, “To be able to get back to business, get our vendors back, and our livestock exhibitors, and our fairgoers back is extremely exciting for us.”

Collins adds that this will have a domino effect on the economies of many communities.

“Imagine a small town in West Virginia going from 5,000 to 30,000, and it impacts not just the event itself but a lot of these things, they’re fundraisers for the fire department, or all of the vendors that open up, to food vendors to the commercial sales, its such an impact to our communities.”

Kelly Collins, President – West Virginia Association of Fairs and Festivals

And Putnam County Fair organizers agree. Vice President of the Putnam County Fair says, “It’s a big deal for the community, we have a lot of people pass through here in the week that our fair is going on. So not being here last year was tough. This will be a good one, I hope people come out.”

Parsons says not only were they dealing with COVID-19, but there were other hurdles this year. “Obviously we had the ice storms that caused down trees, then we had the flood, in the area where you and I are standing was underwater.”

And in Jackson County, Ripley Mayor Carolyn Rader says today’s announcement was a sigh of relief. “When the Governor announced that today it was like ‘YES!’ That breath of fresh air that we didn’t have to worry.” said, Rader.

Even though Ripley carried on with their Independence Day celebration last year, Rader says this year’s will feel more like past years.

“The excitement is it’s going to be Ripley as we know it with Independence day. It’s going to be Ripley as I’ve known it for all of my life.”

Mayor Carolyn Rader, City of Ripley

Normalcy. And a celebration of West Virginia traditions. “We’re full steam ahead.. It should look fairly similar to in past.” said, Parsons.

“Now that the vaccination process is well underway and West Virginia is doing so great we know that we can open and we can open safely.”

Kelly Collins, President – West Virginia Association of Fairs and Festivals