LEE — The annual mid-September Lee Founders Weekend is a no-go for this year.
The Lee Chamber of Commerce board of directors announced Friday that the three-day downtown festival scheduled for Sept. 17-19 has been postponed until next September.
The chamber, as it did last year, cited the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as the reason for calling off the event that attracts tens of thousands over the three days.
As COVID-19 was easing up three months ago, organizers in late May announced that they were planning the return of the weekend festival because vaccination rates were high and the number of virus cases were on the decline. Founders Weekend was canceled last year, during the height of the pandemic.
But, the resurgence of the pandemic in recent weeks had the chamber worried that it couldn’t guarantee a safe event.
Since many Founders Weekend activities would preclude mask-wearing and social distancing, the board believed it would be difficult to ensure the safety of the crowd and participating vendors “without dismantling the fun aspects of the weekend,” the chamber wrote in a statement.
“While we are saddened to have to take this action, the Chamber of Commerce has a duty to encourage and protect the long-term public health of our community and fiscal health of our business community,” said Chamber President Bob Healey.
Chamber Executive Director Colleen Henry said vendors who registered with the business organization will receive a refund. Those who donated toward the Friday night fireworks can request a refund or allow the chamber to keep the money toward Lee Founders Weekend in 2022.
“We look forward to rescheduling this fun and important event as soon as we can practically and safely do so,” Healey said.