Downtown Bentonville Inc. announces its First Friday event scheduled for Friday, August 6th has been canceled.
The decision comes as the Northwest Arkansas region experiences a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases. State and local health agencies identify Benton County as an area with “extremely high” COVID-19 case levels.
The Back-to-School-themed First Friday was organized as a partnership with Bentonville Schools to celebrate the district’s 150th anniversary. All district schools, high school marching bands, cheer squads, principals, and multiple staff members were scheduled to attend.
“This hard decision was made in the best interest of public health and after recommendations from top Northwest Arkansas medical professionals. Our event could potentially draw hundreds of young, school-aged children and their families to booths with hands-on activities,” according to Kirk Gober, Executive Board President of Downtown Bentonville, Inc. “It breaks our heart to cancel a First Friday, but it’s the right thing to do to keep our community safe and not create additional strain for our regional health system.”
Although the First Friday event is being canceled, a planned COVID-19 vaccine clinic will still be available to walk-ins from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm at 105 South Main Street. No ID, insurance cards, or reservations are required to receive the vaccine.
“The physical and mental health of our community is our top priority. As much as we want to continue gathering, we cannot ignore the fact that our local healthcare facilities are running at full capacity,” said Andrew Heath, Executive Director of Downtown Bentonville Inc.
Bentonville Farmers Market and Art Market will be restricted to only local farmers, growers, artisans and makers, and additional interactions will be limited temporarily. The market footprint will continue to offer additional space between vendor booths to accommodate social distancing and safe shopping. Face masks and hand sanitizing stations will be available throughout the event. Attendees are encouraged to wear face coverings.
DBI will continue to speak with medical professionals and assess the safety of future community gatherings.
Downtown Bentonville Inc. has no current plans to cancel other downtown events.