On November 18, 2020, the Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival announced its cancelation as a result of new COVID-19-related restrictions. “Vendors were coming out of the woodwork, and we were poised to have our best event ever,” said festival director Beau Beasley. “Advance ticket and specialty class sales were ahead of last year; honestly, I think our biggest challenge would have been managing the crowd size. Before the latest restrictions went into effect, we had gotten preliminary approval for wine tastings.”
On November 16, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam tightened statewide restrictions that once again limit the number of attendees allowed at public and private indoor and outdoor gatherings. The uncertain business environment caused numerous events across the state to be canceled.
“Essentially, Virginians from all walks of life stepped up to the plate and put their lives on hold for their neighbors,” Beasley said. “Many did so at the cost of their livelihoods. I don’t think any of us realized that the two weeks we were asked to sacrifice to ‘flatten the curve’ would turn into nearly a year to eradicate any potential threat from the virus. I’m also not sure that those who mandate these sorts of restrictions really understand what life is like for Virginians who don’t enjoy the same kind of job security. And then to be scolded for not doing our part? It’s tough to take.” The cure shouldn’t be worse than the disease, Beasley argues. Furthermore, “a special carve-out for enormous venues like outdoor amusement parks that host thousands of visitors just leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of small business owners like me.”
A native Virginian, Beasley and his team have focused instead on open-for-business Texas. “Our fourth annual Texas Fly Fishing & Brew Festival has moved to bustling Mesquite, where our exhibit hall and show hotel are connected,” he says. “We’ll have an inside casting area, more room for vendors, and plenty of classes, food, and microbrewed beer. If you’re in the Lone Star State, come see us!”
The 4th Annual Texas Fly Fishing & Brew Festival, held February 27-28, 2021, in Mesquite, includes tastings from multiple breweries and Treaty Oak Distillery. For more information see www.txflyfishingfestival.org.