By Patrick Yost
The nearly 200 tractors that rumble down Bostwick’s Main Street every fall will be silent this year.
Because of fears of COVID-19 organizers for the annual Bostwick Cotton Gin announced last week that the event, the largest annual festival in Morgan County, has been canceled this year.
“It is with great sadness that the City of Bostwick has declared that it will not host the annual Cotton Gin Festival this year on Nov. 7, 2020,” Chairperson Angie Howard said in an email. “This decision comes as a result of the Governor’s executive orders and the safety of our community. Each year our little community embraces our farming heritage with a tractor parade, crafters and great food. Given the large number of participants, it is not possible to comply with the social distancing guidelines.”
Howard said the event, which started more than 30 years ago, draws between 5,000 to 7,000 people to the town with a nearly 400 population. Last year, she said, the event raised $28,000. Howard said initially the money was used to renovate and restore the Susie Agnes Hotel. The hotel, which was constructed by John Bostwick, Sr. and used as town focal point as a bank, general store and hotel, has been renovated. Funds from the festival are now used for other beautification projects in Bostwick including restoration of the old post office, park maintenance and landscaping.
Howard said the Cotton Gin committee is currently working on plans to hold the event in 2021. In fact, she said, many of the vendors that had sent an application fee for this year’s event are asking the committee to keep the fee for next year. Typically, she said, the event attracts approximately 75 craft vendors and 10 food vendors annually.
“God willing we will start planning in January,” she said. ‘Bostwick is a small, yet strong community.”
Howard said the decision did not come lightly. “We were reluctant to cancel this year’s festival out of hope that the virus would be manageable buy November. However, the virus has proven to be more serious than www first thought. Our health is far more important that the festival. It’s jut that this festival means so much, to so many. People come from all over the state of Georgia to include neighboring states to see the tractors, cotton in the fields and good people. However, this year will not be the same,” Howard wrote in an email.
“Come Nov. 7, there will not be the sound of tractor engines, the rushing of vendors trying to get their booths just right, the cotton gin in full operation, family and friends in and out of the house, live music from the balcony of the Susie Agnes or the sound of a community embracing what it means to enjoy life on a crisp fall day.”