MATTHEWS, NC (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – A beloved tradition in Matthews has been canceled for the second year in a row.
Organizers of the Matthews Alive Labor Day Festival announced they will not hold the event this year, due to the number of unvaccinated people in the community and the severity of the Delta variant.
Normally, the festival is a signature summer staple in Matthews, bringing in 150,000+ people to enjoy parades, rides, food, music, and games.
“Being unable to fulfill our core mission two years in a row is upsetting for our local community, says Chairwoman Julie Bee in a statement. “However, the decision to cancel this year’s Labor Day festival as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic stands as a testament to our mission and love for the people of Matthews.”
Matthews Alive organizers say the Board of Directors’ vote was unanimous and comes with the support of Novant Health and the town government.
Reaction among community members is mixed, with dozens expressing their appreciation for the cancellation on social media, but others expressing extreme disappointment.
“My goddaughter comes with me. I put her on my shoulders, we walk through, we get a corndog, we have a good time, we go on the rides. We’re not going to be able to do that now,” said Matthews resident and business owner Kevin Nelson.
Local business owners are also concerned about another year of lost profits.
“Percentage-wise, it’s going to put us back at least 30-40% that weekend. Yes, it’s a big deal for all of us. Not just this one location. Everyone here in Downtown Matthews looks forward to that event,” said Nouri Motameni of Great Harvest Bread Company.
“There are thousands of people down here, and now those thousands of people aren’t going to be here. So now that’s revenue that I’m not going to get,” said Nelson, who is an operating partner of Matthews Wine Cellar.
The money raised from the festival goes to local nonprofit organizations. In the past, the festival has raised $1.6 million to be invested back into the local community.