BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Back-to-School-themed First Friday event scheduled for Friday, August 6 in Bentonville has been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
According to a release from Downtown Bentonville Inc., the decision comes as the Northwest Arkansas region experiences a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases and local hospitals reach capacity.
“This hard decision was made in the best interest of public health and after recommendations from top Northwest Arkansas medical professionals,” said Kirk Gober, executive board president of Downtown Bentonville, Inc. “Our event could potentially draw hundreds of young, school-age children and their families to booths with hands-on activities.”
The event was organized in partnership with Bentonville Schools to celebrate the district’s 150th anniversary.
All district schools, high school marching bands, cheer squads, principals, and multiple staff members were scheduled to attend.
“It breaks our heart to cancel a First Friday, but it’s the right thing to do to keep our community safe and not create additional strain for our regional health system,” Gober said.
A planned COVID-19 vaccine clinic will still be available to walk-ins from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 105 South Main Street. No ID, insurance cards, or reservations are required to receive the vaccine.
Bentonville Farmers Market and Art Market will be restricted to only local farmers, growers, artisans and makers, and additional interactions will be limited temporarily, according to Downtown Bentonville Inc. Attendees are encouraged to wear face coverings, and additional space will continue to be offered between vendor booths to accommodate social distancing.
Downtown Bentonville Inc. says it has no current plans to cancel other downtown events.