FLORENCE, S.C. (WMBF) – Organizers of the South Carolina Pecan Festival announced Thursday morning the event has been canceled for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Held the first Saturday each November, the S.C. Pecan Festival has historically drawn over 50,000 people annually. This was to be the event’s 17th year.
Committee Chairman George Jebaily said the festival committee, city leaders, and sponsors unanimously decided to cancel the event, so they could limit the spread of the virus and protect the health and safety of those involved.
“It’s going to be a challenge for everybody, and we certainly are disappointed ourselves, it’s kind of heartbreaking really, that we have to do this,” said Jebaily.
Jebaily said they waited to as long as possible to make the decision, but finally, they decided to cancel due to the potential financial commitments.
“We have to be very wise and responsible in making those financial decisions, so we can’t make those expenditures and then decide to cancel,” said Jebaily. “Now, before we start spending those thousands of dollars, we feel like we’ve pushed it as long as we could.”
Jebaily said the Pecan Festival brings in over $1 million annually, and he believes this cancellation will likely have a major economic impact throughout the Pee Dee.
”There certainly will be an economic impact that would be experienced in our community, but we are not able to try and put a number on that, but it’s significant,” said Jebaily.
Pecan Festival co-founder and District 2 Councilwoman Pat Gibson Hye-Moore said it’s disheartening they had to cancel the event, but the safety of Florence residents is her primary concern.
“I just want you to know that you are in my heart because I want you to stay safe and I’d rather cancel the Pecan Festival in its entirety, every year, no longer have it, rather than put you in harm’s way,” said Gibson Hye-Moore.
Vendors who have already signed up to participate in the 2020 festival will have the option of carrying their vendor space payments forward to 2021 or receive a full refund, organizers said.
The South Carolina Pecan Festival Committee is using this hiatus to work to come back bigger and stronger in 2021.