GRANT - The Grant Seafood Festival has been canceled for 2020. The 55th annual event will instead take place March 5-6, 2022.
The primary reason is the uncertainty of rounding up enough volunteers to stage the event.
“The next several months hold too much uncertainty to confidently plan and mobilize the necessary volunteer manpower for a 2021 festival,” said Marketing Chairperson Robin Tibbitts. “Our family of volunteers numbers over 500 with many coming from outside of our Grant community. With much respect and deliberation, it has been decided to go along with the majority decision and plan for spring of 2022 for our next Grant Seafood Festival.”
The festival is run entirely by volunteers, who do all of the organizing, purchasing, preparation, cooking, and serving. According to Ms. Tibbitts, the inability to secure commitments from the needed volunteers made it impossible to plan a successful event, as did the uncertainty concerning how many people would travel during the pandemic to attend the event.
“Our patrons are wonderful and unbelievably loyal, and many travel great distances to support this unique event. Difficulty planning for travel and the restrictions of many aspects of our lives currently means fewer volunteers and attendees we can count on.”
“This was an agonizing decision that weighed heavily on all of us. We love our Grant Seafood Festival and would never want to tarnish its reputation.”
Many booths at the festival are run by multiple generations of family members. Carla Simmons, the co-chair of the fried shrimp booth, has volunteered at the festival since 1992.
“We’ve pretty much had the same volunteers for the last 10 or 12 years,” Ms. Simmons told Hometown News before the last festival. “They just come back to the booth; it’s their job the one weekend in February.”
All proceeds from the festival are put back into the community, including the Grant Seafood Festival scholarship fund.
“I like what it represents,” said Ms. Simmons. “I like the fact that it’s all volunteers. It’s the small-town feel; this is small-town America. It sounds corny, but it is. Everybody knows everybody, and if you don’t know their name you know them by sight.”
“Usually, as the kids grow up through the ranks and go to college, they come back and work the festival. You’ll find a lot of the recipients of the college funds working at the festival. You watch the kids grow up, they go to college, they have families, and now we see their kids wandering around the festival.”
“The bulk of the money raised always goes to the scholarship program,” said Ms. Tibbitts. “Our goal is at least $66,000 a year. All the money always goes right back into the community. We have to maintain our grounds. The funds help the Grant Historical House, the cemetery, the Grant Community Library, and The Grant Community Center.”