Founders Day Festival Cancelled
Story updated March 24th-
The City of Dripping Springs released a letter by Mayor Todd Purcell stating the Founders Day Festival is cancelled “due to the order issued by Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra,” on March 18.
On March 15, Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra issued a “Declaration of Local Disaster,” to “allow Hays County to take measures to reduce the possibility of exposure to COVID-19 and promote the health and safety of Hays County residents utilizing state and federal resources made available with the declaration.”
On March 17, Becerra followed the local disaster declaration with an “Order” prohibiting “Community Gatherings” of ten persons or more “anywhere within Hays County beginning at 2 a.m. on March 18, 2020, and continuing until 5 p.m. on May 14, 2020, unless terminated or modified by a subsequent order…”
On March 20th, Becerra signed a second order regarding COVID-19, which mirrored Gov. Greg Abbott’s statewide order that limits gatherings to no more than 10 people and closes bars, gyms, restaurants — with the exception of to-go and delivery orders — and schools. The governor’s order also banned visits to nursing and retirement homes unless a critical need exists. Abbott’s order went into effect Friday as of 11:59 p.m. and lasts until April 3. Additionally,
The letter by Mayor Purcell, issued on City stationary, reads:
Dear Community Members:
From Mayor Todd Purcell, City of Dripping Springs
March 18, 2020
As most of you have probably heard, the Annual Founders Day Festival scheduled for April 24th though the 26th has been cancelled due to the Order issued by Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra. These are difficult and uncertain times; I know that this was not an easy decision for the Judge to make.
Now, I know we all look forward to this annual event. It is a time to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. Of course, our children can’t wait to be part of the parade and hit all the carnival attractions.
While we all know how much fun this annual festival is, did you know that this event is a huge fundraiser for many of our area non-profit organizations and churches? The booth fees paid to the Dripping Springs Cook-Off club, The Dripping Springs Lions Club and St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church are reinvested in our community in countless ways.
I know that the participating groups are offering refunds due to the cancellation and if you are an individual or group that would be eligible for a refund from one of these entities, I would like for you to consider letting these non-profits keep the funds.
I have had my Cook Off booth since Founders Day started over 30 years ago and I will not be requesting a refund. These non-profits use the funds to provide scholarships to graduating seniors, provide eyeglasses to those in need and to support food pantry operations. These are only a few ways that the funds make an impact on people in our community. If you are able, I encourage you to allow these groups to keep the participant fees.
One last thing. As schools and businesses are closing and events are being cancelled, remember that the goal here is social distancing not social isolation. Don’t forget to call and check on an elderly neighbor. Call an old friend that you have spoken to in a while. Go fishing with your kids and listen to music together. Let’s take this time to grow closer as a family and community.
Take care of each other,
Mayor Todd Purcell
Founders Day is an annual three-day festival that celebrates the founding of the Dripping Springs community, and the largest event of the year celebrated on Mercer Street.
Every April, locals and visitors look forward to the wide variety of festivities that are offered including the Mighty Thomas Carnival, a variety of food booths, barbecue cook-off competitions, live music, and the more than 150 arts and craft booths and vendors that line-up along Mercer Street.
The festival is hosted by the City of Dripping Springs, as well as the Founders Day Commission, which includes representatives from different local organizations. The proceeds collected from the three-day event are contributed back to the community, and benefit local non-profit organizations, parks, churches, schools, youth groups and charities.
A ranking city official was asked by the Century News if there was a possibility that the festival could/would be rescheduled for later in the year, the official (requesting not to be named) said “I think it’s cancelled for the year. However if the committee comes back to the city wishing to reschedule, I’m sure it would be given consideration. But you have to understand that rescheduling the event would take a great deal of work, from closing the streets, to everything else that goes with it. So if they came back with a request for say October, I’m sure it would at least be looked at.”
Becerra’s March 17 “Order” authorized “the Hays County Sheriff’s Office, Hays County Constables’ Offices, the Hays County Fire Marshall’s Office, and other peace officers,” to enforce the order with a $500 fine for “a person who willfully disregards or conspires to willfully disregard this order authorized by Chapter 418 of the Texas Government Code.”
It defined “Community Gatherings” as any indoor or outdoor event or convening…that brings together ten or more persons at the same time, “including [but not limited to] weddings, religious gatherings, parties, funerals, sporting events social events, conferences, and other large gatherings…”
The county order exempted a list of items including in part- school classrooms, stores (grocery and shopping malls), restaurants and bars, hospitals and medical facilities, institutes of higher learning, office space, and “transit on buses, trains or airplanes.”