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Staff File Photo / John Smedley hand-hews a wood bowl during the 2016 New Salem Mountain Festival.

One of the signature events of the fall festival season in the Chattanooga area has been canceled. Officials with the New Salem Mountain Festival have announced they are rescheduling for 2022.

"It was kind of late [in the planning process], but with the increase in COVID we were kind of concerned about everyone's safety," said Faye Nichols, a spokeswoman for the New Salem Community Improvement Club, which sponsors the event.

The fine arts and crafts festival traditionally takes place the second full weekend of October in New Salem, a Lookout Mountain community between Trenton and LaFayette, Georgia. Although primarily held outdoors with 100 or so vendors set up along a tree-lined path, Nichols said the corps of volunteer workers had become increasingly skittish about trying to hold the two-day event, which typically draws large crowds.

"Most of our people who help and volunteer are 60 and above, and three of our members have had COVID," she said. "A lot of people around here have had it, so we were limited with volunteers."

Latest figures from the Georgia Department of Public Health indicate that Dade County, which has a population of just over 16,000, has recorded 1,680 cases of COVID-19 and 15 deaths.

Nichols said the decision to cancel is "hurting us as much or more than anybody. That's how we keep our community center open."

The rescheduled dates for the festival are Oct. 8-9, 2022.

Contact Lisa Denton at ldenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6281.

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