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Ongoing health concerns and continued unknowns created by the coronavirus pandemic have led to the cancellation of all Heritage Foundation live festivals and events for the remainder of 2020, including Main Street Festival, the Heritage Ball, Pumpkinfest and Dickens of a Christmas. 

In addition, the Foundation will postpone all further programming at the Franklin Theatre effective Thursday with the exception of two previously scheduled concerts in July.

“This is a very difficult decision made after months of careful and diligent consideration, and one that marks an unprecedented time in the history of the Heritage Foundation,” Bari Beasley, Heritage Foundation CEO, said in a press release sent Wednesday afternoon. “With a clear focus on the health and safety of our community, and after much deliberation and review of health and government updates, virtual options and economic impact, I believe this is the best decision to ensure that the Foundation can continue to serve our great community for generations to come.”

The Heritage Foundation’s long-standing annual community events that will be canceled for 2020 include the 37th annual Main Street Festival scheduled for July 18-19, the 37th annual Pumpkinfest scheduled for Oct. 24, and the 36th Annual Dickens of a Christmas scheduled for Dec. 12-13. The 47th annual Heritage Ball scheduled for Oct. 3 — the longest-running black-tie event in Williamson County and the Foundation’s largest fundraiser — will also not be held.  

The Foundation has been closely monitoring pandemic statistics as well as taking heed of the actions of other festival organizers in and around the community that have ultimately decided cancellation was the safest option.

“When you see events such as the Pilgrimage Festival, the Williamson County Fair and CMA Fest being canceled, it’s an eye-opening realization that it is still not safe for our community to gather in large groups,” Beasley said. “At the same time, our community festivals and events also serve to generate much-needed operational revenue for the Foundation to keep our preservation, education and community programs going, so community support is needed now more than ever.”

All remaining programming at The Franklin Theatre, including movies, private events and live programming, will be postponed, with the exception of two concert events previously scheduled for July. This will also include postponement of the new live performance series scheduled to launch this fall. The Franklin Theatre, a division of the Heritage Foundation, is currently making every effort to reschedule events into the 2021-22 season. New dates for the Performing Arts Series and other 2021-22 programming will be forthcoming.

While this announcement results in both a loss in operating revenue and a reduction in staff, the Heritage Foundation remains focused on its mission and vision of saving places and stories that matter in Williamson County. As a nonprofit organization, the Foundation is seeking community support to continue 2020 programs which include advocacy and education for historical preservation, current preservation projects including Franklin Grove Estate & Gardens, support for downtown Main Street merchants, and planning to revitalize community festivals and events, and reopen the Franklin Theatre in 2021.

“We need our community to be part of the story this year, so it will be possible to make 2021 a year of community celebration, reviving our downtown Franklin signature festivals and events, and filling the Franklin Theatre with the new live performing arts season,” Beasley said. “So we are asking all of our donors and anyone who attended any of our events or enjoyed our historic Franklin Theatre in the past to please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Heritage Foundation so that we can keep focused on saving these amazing places.”

People can donate or learn more about supporting the mission of the Heritage Foundation at www.williamsonheritage.org/donate.