For Mid-Valley Media
There will be no Northwest Art & Air Festival this weekend, or at all this year, the City of Albany has decided.
Albany Parks & Recreation staffers said they were already concerned about sponsors, vendors and volunteers who were worried about holding a large event when COVID-19 cases are on the rise. Some had already chosen to pull out.
The department announced this morning the state outdoor mask requirement was the final straw.
“Albany Parks & Recreation does not have the staffing to enforce this new outdoor mask mandate. It is a task that we do not have the training for,” said Lynne Smith, events and program coordinator, in a written statement. “We will not put our staff, volunteers, or vendors in difficult situations with attendees that are unwilling to wear masks.”
The three-day festival, held at both the Albany Municipal Airport and at Timber Linn Memorial Park, draws balloonists from all over the country for daily launches and a weekend “Night Glow” event.
Local artists show and sell their wares, pilots invite children for training rides as part of the Young Eagles program, and entertainers perform on stages large and small. This year, The Guess Who had been tapped for the Saturday show.
Restrictions on gatherings because of the novel coronavirus also led to cancellation of last year’s festival, which would have been the 21st annual event. Smith said the hope is to bring back the festival in 2022.