HINTON, WV (WOAY) – The Railroad Museum in Hinton plays host to the Railroad Festival every year, where people from all over the state come to enjoy the celebration for three days in October.
Unfortunately, the Museum Committee determined that the museum building itself falls short of the safety requirements necessary to host this year’s event.
“There are other locations in the city,” said Hinton Railroad Museum volunteer Pat Hanifin. “We knew this building was a major problem, because we just can’t sanitize. We don’t have the ability to do that, to meet the state’s requirements. I spent a day and a half down at the freight depot, which is a good location in the city for events, to try to find out if we could make it fit down there. Even though the space is there, there’s not enough space for us to bring in the vendors that we have in the past.”
This decision was tough for the committee to make, as it was put off for as long as possible until there just wasn’t enough time to get everything set up for October. The potential hit to the economy isn’t lost on those involved. That, along with the communal aspect, were major reasons that the museum committee waited until mid-June to postpone.
“It’ll be a great economic impact to our community,” said Hilton Mayor Joe Blankenship. “As I said, mainly clubs, organizations that give scholarships to kids in our school system and so forth.”
As is the case with so many other events in 2020, the threat of COVID-19 was what doomed the 2020 Railroad Day. Summers County has one of the lowest number of cases in the state, and it isn’t worth putting the population at risk in order to hold one of the fall’s most popular events.
“We did not want to expose this community to that kind of risk,” Hanifin said. “It had really gotten to something that simple. We’ve been successful thus far, and we feel that that’s the way it should stay, as much as we would prefer to have this festival.
The committee has every intention of the festival returning in 2021.