Shenandoah cancels plans for Memorial Day weekend

Car show-Shen Mem Day

By Randy Arrington

SHENANDOAH, May 1 — Three weeks from today, classic cars were supposed to be cruising into town to kickoff the Memorial Day weekend. Now, organizers are telling donors to hang on to their money until next year, when they hope to provide a “bigger and better” celebration for the community.

On Tuesday, the members of the Shenandoah Heritage Center Committee decided that they could wait no longer.

“We had decided [at a meeting in March] if they hadn’t let things loose by the end of April we would just cancel because it’s too much money tied to it to just not have a good turnout,” said Nancy Karnes, chairman of the Memorial Day committee and vice president of the Heritage Center. 

While Governor Ralph Northam may lift his closure of non-essential businesses on May 8, his Stay At Home order is currently in effect until June 10.

During the Shenandoah Council’s meeting Tuesday night, Mayor Clinton Lucas told council members that he had spoken with Karnes that day and learned of their decision.

“She said they were waiting until April 30 to make a decision, but since we were meeting tonight [April 28], they would go ahead and make a decision,” Lucas said. “She said they’d take the money raised this year and use it for a bigger and better celebration next year.”

It would have been the 23rd installment of the Memorial Day weekend  celebration, according to Karnes.

“I’m very disappointed that we can’t have it because it’s always been a great event,” she said. 

The committee began working on the event in January, meeting twice a month. When the governor began shutting things down in mid-March, the committee put everything on hold until May.

“We felt the council really needed to agree with us,” Karnes said, “and as soon as I said it, the mayor said ‘You’re right, you’re right.”

As far as the money raised, Karnes said that any money raised for this year’s festival will remain in the fund for next year. She said it typically costs about $7,500 to put on the event.

“We get money from [Transiency Occupancy Tax (TOT)] of $5,000 that automatically stays where it is. The Town hasn’t given us any money yet, but we have some left over from the previous year,” Karnes said. “We had some big pledges, but we went back and said just hold on to that until next year.”

In addition to a cruise-in, car show, tractor show, parade and Memorial Day ceremony, the committee chairman said they have some new ideas for the weekend celebration, including a battle of the bands.

“I think she had about 10 bands interested,” Karnes said of a fellow committee member. “I think there was going to be a big prize too.”

And while the streets may not host a parade, flags will still fly in Shenandoah on Memorial Day weekend — with thoughts of our fallen soldiers, and the hope to celebrate their sacrifices as a community next year.

“Hopefully,” said Karnes, “we’ll be able to do it even bigger.”

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