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China Grove cancels Farmers Day because of COVID-19

CHINA GROVE — The hottest day of the year is canceled because of COVID-19.

The town of China Grove this week announced the annual Farmers Day celebration, affectionately called the hottest day of the year, would join the ranks of many other events that have been canceled because of COVID-19. Town Manager Ken Deal said the governor’s order about crowd size was the most significant barrier. Currently, the state’s crowd restrictions include no more than 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors.

“There’s absolutely no way that we could spread people out enough to take care of that,” Deal said.

But there were also questions like whether vendors and bands would be willing to show up when health questions remain. Health care companies sponsor the event, and Deal said they’d wonder “Gee, should we be there.”

“We waited until what we thought was the drop-dead date, June 1, but it just didn’t happen,” Deal said.

In its announcement, the town said its “hearts are heavy, but look for some virtual farming fun activities the week of July 13,” when the celebration had been scheduled. Next year’s event is July 17, 2021.

Started officially on July 17, 1982, this is the first year in which there hasn’t been a Farmers Day in China Grove. Its modern incarnation has included a produce market, arts and crafts vendors, a stage for entertainment, street dancing, fireworks and contests for Little Mr. and Mrs. Farmer. The unofficial history of Farmers Day goes back to the early 1900s.

Judy Haire, who helped organize the event before the town took on those duties, said she expected Farmers Day to be canceled this year, but “at the same time it’s still very sad.”

“It’s almost like a homecoming day when you see so many friends that you see once a year,” Haire said. “It’s just really a fun day in China Grove for people to get together and fellowship.”

Haire said she thought it was a good idea to put together some online events during the same week.

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