Linton community responds to Freedom Festival cancellation, officials say decision was not easy

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LINTON, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– The Linton-Stockton Chamber of Commerce announced on May 13 that their annual Independence Day festival would be cancelled.

The parade has been around for more than 100 years and Cheryl Hamilton, Executive Director of the Linton-Stockton Chamber of Commerce, said it wasn’t an easy decision to make.

“It’s not something that was done overnight and it’s not something that was done in one meeting,” she explained.

Hamilton said with the state’s phased reopening, depending upon the number of Coronavirus cases around the state, they had to prepare for the worst.

“There’s just a lot of things that went into play. At any point in time if the governor decides he’s not going to reopen the next phase, then we knew we were in a world of hurt.”

Festival events such as the fireworks show are sponsored by local businesses that have been temporarily shut down.

“We just couldn’t knock on those doors and say ‘how bout giving us x number of dollars to help with an event’ when they’ve been closed. We just could not do that. Our conscious wouldn’t let us do that,” Hamilton noted.

She also said they were concerned for the health and safety of Greene Co. residents and those who travel from other places to participate in the festival.

“Are we pulling from a Lake county or a St. Joe that has really high numbers and are they going to infect someone in our community? And is it going to be widespread? That’s kind of a slap in the face to our health care workers. We invited this into our community and now it’s their battle,” she expressed.

Several local festival goers said they understood the chamber’s decision.

“I kind of understand it because of everything going on. It makes me nervous going out in public. So, I understand,” said Rachel Lietzau.

Another Greene Co. resident said the decision was necessary.

“It’s a just a change in times. People just have to adapt to what we have to deal with now,” said Scott Stahl.

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