Williamsburg recently canceled two of its most popular annual events, the Fourth of July fireworks celebration and Old Fashioned Trading Days, and things aren’t looking very good in terms of opening the city’s most popular attraction, the Kentucky Splash Waterpark, this season.
“At this particular moment, there has been no decision made,” Williamsburg Mayor Roddy said Tuesday afternoon about the waterpark opening.
“We are still moving, working, getting it ready as if we were going to open July 1, but my gut is saying it probably won’t happen. We are going to continue to move on it just in case.”
Harrison noted that it is a lot simpler to cancel such an opening at the last minute than it would be to proceed as if the waterpark isn’t going to open only to find out at the last minute that it can open to the public.
“It just takes so much prep to open,” he added.
Last week, Harrison announced that cancelation of fireworks and Old Fashioned Trading Days, and he explained some of the reasoning behind that decision.
“Those are some of the hardest decisions that we have faced in regards to events for people,” he said.
Harrison said that he consulted with Williamsburg Tourism Director Alvin Sharpe before the last tourism commission meeting about both cancellations, and the decision largely came down to two factors.
The first is not knowing what kind of revenue shortfall city government and the tourism commission are going to have for the rest of this fiscal year, and next fiscal year, which starts July 1.
The tourism commission gets most of its funding from the restaurant tax, and the transient room tax on motel and hotel room stays.
While the restaurant tax revenue is going to be down, Harrison said restaurant business is holding up better than first expected.
Officials are expecting to take a very significant hit in terms of transient room tax revenue, Harrison said.
Much of the revenue from both taxes is earmarked for paying off the debt incurred to build Kentucky Splash Waterpark. The final bond payment on that facility is scheduled to be made early next year.
Money has to be spent ahead of time to book fireworks shows and bands, and Williamsburg tourism officials aren’t sure how much revenue will be available in the upcoming months, Harrison said.
The Corbin Tourism Commission recently approved its 2020-2021 fiscal year budget, which is roughly half of what the 2019-2020 fiscal year budget was projected to be at this point last year.
Harrison said the other factor is that even if officials were able to hold these two events, there is no way of knowing what guidelines will have to be followed at the time the events are scheduled.
He cited a for instance of if the city were forced to try and implement six-foot social distancing rules between parked cars for the fireworks show.
Both the Fourth of July celebration and Old Fashioned Trading Days, which would have been in its 37th consecutive year in 2020, are expected to return in 2021.