Dairy Festival parade 2019

The Vermont Dairy Festival Pageant winners in the 2019 festival parade.

ENOSBURG FALLS – Organizers have cancelled the Vermont Dairy Festival this year, citing fears the gathering, held every year in Enosburg Falls, would spread COVID-19 among festivalgoers.

In a statement posted online Monday evening, the Enosburg Falls Lions Club, which organizes the Vermont Dairy Festival, said they agreed to cancel the event several months in advance based on the recommendations of the state’s health department.

“We really didn’t want to make this decision this early,” the notice read. “But after some discussions with the health department we feel we would be putting the public at risk even if the peak passes us within the next couple of weeks.”

According to the Lions Club, most of its members are 60 years old or older, putting them at risk of COVID-19’s more severe health complications.

COVID-19, the disease caused by a novel strain of coronavirus currently spreading through Vermont and the U.S., can be highly contagious, according to health officials.

While most cases of COVID-19 will result in mild to moderate symptoms such as a fever or dry cough, the disease can result in more severe and even life-threatening complications, especially among the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions.

With the Enosburg Falls Lions Club cancelling the Vermont Dairy Festival, the festival joins a growing list of annual events cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this month, organizers of the annual Vermont Maple Festival in St. Albans also opted to cancel their festival this year over fears their event would help spread COVID-19.

In the wake of those initial cancellations, gubernatorial orders have called for crowd sizes of no more than 10 people and have asked Vermonters to remain in their homes unless they were participating in “essential” business, like grocery shopping or exercising.

Measures limiting social gatherings, according to health officials, are intended to help slow COVID-19’s spread and minimize the amount of people diagnosed with COVID-19 at any single time, ideally keeping the state’s health care system from being overwhelmed.

According to the Enosburg Falls Lion Club, health officials also feared major gatherings like the Vermont Dairy Festival could cause another outbreak of COVID-19 even if the current outbreak subsides by the festival’s scheduled start in early June.

The Vermont Dairy Festival dates back more than 60 years, inviting thousands to Enosburg Falls to participate in events like the festival’s annual parade and competitions celebrating the region’s agricultural heritage.

This year would have been the festival’s 64th celebration.

“We want to thank everyone that has helped support our event in the past and those who were planning on supporting this year’s event and we are looking forward to working with you in the future,” the Enosburg Falls Lion Club’s notice read.

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