It was a sign of the times, and only a matter of time. The planning, money and safety required to organize and host one of the largest craft fairs in the country was too big of a hill to climb during the current pandemic.
Mount Dora’s 36th Annual Craft Fair, scheduled for the last weekend in October, was officially cancelled today. The sprawling event typically takes six to nine months to plan and draws over 100,000 visitors to the quaint Central Florida town over two days. The result is one of the most lucrative weekends of they year for the city’s downtown merchants.
“With the issues of COVID-19, it has become apparent that several more events will be cancelled. VisitMountDora and the City have agreed that we will cancel the Mount Dora Craft Festival this year.” said Mayor Cathy Hoechst in a recorded phone message to residents.
Nearly 400 crafters come from across the U.S. to line Mount Dora’s downtown streets with their white tents filled with handmade items and art. This year, organizers only received about half the number of vendor applications it normally attracts. Due to COVID-19, much of the national craft show circuit, which is what many exhibitors follow for income, has been disrupted, and many out-of-state exhibitors aren’t travelling. Approximately half of the event's crafters come from out-of-state.
“We’ve had several saying they don’t want to come to Florida, period,” said Brian Young, one of the event’s main organizers. Presently, Florida has among the highest confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the country, although cases have been slowly trending downward.
Making things even more financially difficult was the lack of interest from the craft fair’s sponsors this year. All but one had pulled out.
“We are not planning any city-sponsored events in September in order to keep the COVID numbers declining,” said Hoechst. Lake County currently has a novel coronavirus test positivity rate of 7.9%.
Mount Dora, known for its many downtown festivals, is still having smaller events being discussed by various organizers that include a car show, music in the park , Art in the Alley, a night market, Scarecrow Stroll, and Holiday Greeting Card Lane. VisitMountDora, the organizer of the Mount Dora Craft Fair, is still planning its annual Spring Craft Show in March and will begin accepting applications for exhibitors in November.
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