Every year on the last Friday and Saturday in August, hot air balloonists from around the world gather at Timber-Linn Park in Albany, Oregon, to fly around the area. Artists also come to show and sell their work, along with food vendors. Musicians are here as well, performing live for hundreds of visitors.
This year on August 27 and 28, the park will be empty. That’s because Albany Parks & Recreation decided to cancel the event because of new state COVID restrictions on large events.
“This is a decision that we did not make alone, according to a statement on the Northwest Art & Air Festival’s home page. “Over the past few weeks, many of our sponsors, vendors, and volunteers have expressed concern over holding a large event in an environment where cases are rising, vaccination rates are low, and mask-wearing, mandated or not, is so contentious. Some of our partners have already chosen to pull out of this year’s event.
“Albany Parks & Recreation does not have the staffing to enforce this new outdoor mask mandate, the statement continued. “It is a task that we do not have the training for. We will not put our staff, volunteers, or vendors in difficult situations with attendees that are unwilling to wear masks.”
The 2022 Northwest Art & Air Festival is scheduled August 26-27.