HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — The announcement that the Hampton Bay Days festival is cancelled was a big talker on Thursday.
Last week, the city of Hampton announced funding had been cut for the festival starting next year. The city cited two things that they say have been constant struggles for the event organizers over the last 33 years: city support and a clear mission.
During a city council meeting Wednesday night, Hampton Bay Days President Chuck Leavines fired back.
“Based upon the recent press release that has caused a negative connotation and some of our vendors and sponsors to withdraw from our event … the Bay Days Foundation and board of directors have decided to cancel the event for 2015,” Leavines said.
And with that, he and the group with him walked out of the city council meeting. Sometime after that, a post appeared on the organization’s Facebook page about the cancellation.
On Thursday, those affected by the sudden announcement were speaking out. Some were angry with the city for cutting funds. Others want to know why the organizers let a change scheduled for next year bring an end to everything just 13 weeks away from this year’s big weekend.
“Why?” said Pam Morgan, with Mr. Potato. “What is going on? I don’t understand. It has a big crowd. The people come. It’s a great event. I just don’t understand why Bay Days funding is cut and none of the other events, Black Beard, Children’s Festival, block parties.”
Morgan said she had already started putting in orders to join Bay Days for her 30th year, and now she has plenty of questions for the city.
Soon after the meeting Wednesday night, the city of Hampton took to social media to confirm the rumor that had already started making its rounds. The Twitter and Facebook posts also said the Bay Days organizers would be refunding the city money they had been given for this year’s event.
Hampton Bay Days organizers tell City Council festival is canceled this year and they will refund city money. #hampton
— City of Hampton (@cityofhampton) June 11, 2015
WAVY.com asked a city representative about those funds and the funds for other popular events. In the 2015 budget for events by outside groups, Bay Days was allotted $50,000. The Hampton Cup Regatta, another 3-day event, was given $20,000 and block parties planned for several weeks would receive $60,000.
The city said funds have been cut across the board over the last 6 years, and the higher funding for Bays Days clearly lasted longer than most, but they just can’t afford to do what they’ve done in the past.