MATTHEWS – The Town of Matthews has canceled BeachFest and stuck a fork in the remaining dates of its popular Food Truck Fridays & Concert Series as COVID-19 continues to linger in the community.
With BeachFest 60 days away, the town was nearing a crossroads where it needed to make key decisions, including whether to release festival partners from that commitment, according to Corey King, parks and recreation director.
“We do recognize that BeachFest is a high-profile event – one that the board and certainly the mayor play a big role in,” he told commissioners Aug. 24.
May 2021 has been identified as the next opportunity for the beach music festival.
King said the town has been canceling Food Truck Fridays events on a rolling basis, usually two to three weeks ahead of time. Given the uncertainty of when the state will enter Phase 3 and what the town will be allowed to do, King said town staff recommended canceling the series through November.
Commissioner John Urban mentioned how outdoor dining has become more popular during the pandemic. He asked King what the contributing factors were in canceling Food Truck Fridays.
Town staff is worried about optics.
Town Manager Hazen Blodgett said he didn’t want Matthews to be on the news for having food trucks and people not following social distancing.
“This is a town-sponsored event,” he said. “My recommendation to the board is to be as conservative as possible so we don’t get caught up in some kind of social media blitzkrieg of we’re not the good guys. We’re the spreaders.”
Jeff Miller was the only commissioner to vote against canceling Food Truck Fridays.
Miller believes social distancing can be achieved in a venue the size of Stumptown Park. People could wear masks and they wouldn’t have to touch merry-go-rounds or helicopters.
Mayor Pro Tem Renee Garner pushed back, saying people would be touching surfaces to get their food or throw their trash away. She sees people not observing social distancing at some downtown restaurants.
Commissioner Ken McCool also brought up the idea of enforcement.