Oak Leaf Festival canceled for the first time in 21 years

OAK HILL, WV (WOAY) – This morning, the City of Oak Hill made the announcement that the Oak Leaf Festival is canceled for the first time in its history.

Every year, the City of Oak Hill and its residents fill the streets for the Oak Leaf Festival.

“I just look forward to all the vendors and them selling things on the street,” said local resident Cheryle Jackson. “It’s a good time for all the Oak Hill people just to get together. People that graduated from here, they come for the festival.”

Thursday morning, the City of Oak Hill posted to its Facebook page that this years festival won’t happen.

“It wasn’t an easy decision at all,” said director Saundie Smith. “I really hated doing it, but I think with things the way they are, it’s probably the best thing we could do.”

The decision wasn’t just based on public health. The committee had struggling local businesses in mind as well.

“We can’t have groups of so many people, so fundraisers are out of the question,” said Smith. “So many businesses have been not working, so to go to them for support would not have been [fair].”

In 21 years, this is the first time the festival has been canceled. Although the city and the festival committee were disappointed to make the decision, they hope everyone understands and can look forward to the festival in 2021.

“Hopefully it will be bigger and better… and we can do more things next year,” said Smith.

Locals were shocked to hear the announcement, with some expressing disappointment in making the decision so early. Others expressed understanding, saying it was right for the city to take the health of others into consideration.

“We have to be careful,” said Jackson. “A lot of older people come to that because it’s been going on for so many years, so we just want to be safe, keep everybody safe and we’ll have it next year.”

Smith says the money that would have gone to this year’s event will instead help make next years even better.

Tyler Barker
Tyler Barker is currently the News Director and Digital Content Manager for WOAY-TV. He was promoted to this job in Mid-November. He still will fill in on weather from time to time. You can follow Tyler on Facebook and Twitter @wxtylerb. Have any news tips or weather questions? Email him at tbarker@woay.com