As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and cases rise throughout the area, many communities are expressing a growing concern over upcoming festivals. Although it was canceled due to the pandemic last year, this year the Black Gold Committee has decided they will continue with their plans to hold the festival.

The Black Gold Festival, which will be held Sept. 16-18, will encourage several safety precautions, said committee members.

One of the safety measures being taken, said the committee, is in regards to food booths.

“We have talked with all our food booths and they are to wear a mask and gloves the whole time they’re serving,” said Terry Feltner, chair of the Black Gold Planning Committee.

In addition to the use of masks and gloves, Feltner said sanitizer will be available at booths throughout the festival as well as along the street.

“We have rented five hand washing stations that will be set up along the route of the festival for people to use,” Feltner said.

The Black Gold Festival Committee, said Feltner, is trying to make the 2021 Black Gold Festival as safe and fun as possible for guests.

“Everything we’re doing is outside, there’s nothing that’s going to be indoors,” said Feltner. “We’re trying to keep it as safe as possible so if they feel comfortable wearing a mask I suggest they wear a mask. I think we’re taking every precaution we can to make it comfortable for everyone.”

Currently the entertainment schedule is still not finished, said Nikki Begley from the Black Gold Committee, but the main acts as of Sept. 3 include several local and well-known talents.

On Thursday, Sept. 16, the Hazard High School chorus will be performing at noon, and the Hazard Perry Community Choir will be performing at 6 p.m. On Friday, Sept. 17, Jordan Family Band will perform at 6 p.m.; Carla Pack and Groove Essential will perform at 7:30 p.m.; and Chayce Beckham, the American Idol 2021 winner, will perform at 9 p.m. On Saturday, Sept. 18, Midlife Crisis will perform at 7 p.m. and Priscilla Block will perform at 8:30 p.m.

Each year the Black Gold Festival Planning Committee brings in both new attractions as well as returning favorites. While many of the vendors and booths are from out of the area, several local businesses and organizations set up at the festival. This year, guests and community members are encouraged to support local booths and local businesses located downtown.

Feltner said one of the ways people can do this is to shop locally.

Over the last two years, said Feltner, many new businesses, such as the Read Spotted Newt,

Hazard Coffee Company, and Coal Country Candles, have opened in downtown Hazard. The festival, she said, is a perfect opportunity for people to take the time to shop at those locally owned small businesses located downtown. Feltner said she has contacted Bailey Richards to see about displaying signs to encourage people to visit businesses during the festival.

In addition to shopping at local stores, Feltner said people should support local food booths and vendors. Many of the local churches, schools, and fire departments are often set up during the festival. By purchasing food or items from the local booths, it keeps the money in the area.

Attractions and activities that have been confirmed for the Black Gold so far include the parade, the pageant, a wrestling match and more.

The Black Gold Festival parade will be held on Saturday, Sept. 18 starting at 11 a.m. Participants do not have to pre-register, they can simply come to registration that day at the old Food Fair parking lot starting at 9 a.m. to pay the $15 entry fee and submit the application. The parade will start at East Main Pizza Hut, continue up Memorial Drive, and will end at Combs Motel. It will not go down Main St.

The following characters will be riding in the parade and then taking pictures with children after the parade in front of the Black Gold booth beside City Hall: JJ; Bluey; Sponge Bob; and Baby Yoda (subject to change because the renter had to order new hand, hopefully he gets them in on time). A schedule will be posted soon, said committee members.

Re/max Legacy Group, along with the Black Gold committee, is excited to announce the Re/Max hot air balloon will be back for the 2021 Black Gold Festival. Re/max Legacy Group will be offering free tethered rides on top of the parking structure on Thursday, Sept. 16, starting at 6 p.m., weather permitting.

The Black Gold Float Competition will be held on Saturday during the parade. The competition is being sponsored by ARH, and is for Perry County and Hazard Independent Schools. The theme is “Raised on Soup beans, Cornbread, and the Black Gold.” The first place winner will receive $1,000, the second place winner will receive $750, and the third place winner will receive $500.

On Saturday, the Black Gold Committee will honor individuals and businesses who supported the Black Gold throughout all 40 years. These will include: Delores Jones (a crafter who was there every year); WSGS;  Pepsi Cola; Perry Distributors; People’s Bank; City of Hazard; Perry County Fiscal Court; and the Hazard Herald.

A dog show will be held in Triangle Park each day of the festival. Dates will be announced soon. Free inflatables will be set up for children all three days of the festival. The train will be giving free rides on Main Street each day of the festival. On Friday, circus acts will be held from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Several magician acts will be held during the festival.

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