Fireworks lit up the sky over Franklin County on July 3, 2019 during the annual Rocky Mount Rotary Independence Day Festival.


The Rotary Club of Rocky Mount’s 2020 Independence Festival has been canceled due to COVID-19.

This is the first cancellation of the event in the 37-year history of the festival, according to a press release by the Rotary Club of Rocky Mount.

“This decision was not done so easily,” said Pam Chitwood, president of the Rotary Club. “Our club really enjoys putting this event on every year for our community and wanted to do so again this year; however, we had to do what was best to ensure the health and safety of our community as well.

She said the club looked into several options for the event, but in the end decided canceling was the only option.

Independence Festival Committee Chair Lisa Schenk explained that the festival takes months of planning.

“The Rotary Club of Rocky Mount has been closely monitoring Gov. Ralph Northam’s guidelines for reopening the state and consulting with local officials over the last few weeks,” she said. “With no clear timeline on the restrictions being scaled back for large gatherings, the decision to cancel was the only viable decision the club had. We are all disappointed in having to make this decision, but the unknowns at this time are too great to host the event.”

The festival is expected to return in 2021.

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