We at Empire Farm Days management are incredibly upset with the decision of the Seneca County Board of Supervisors to not allow Empire Farm Days to take place at the Rodman Lott Farm on State Route 414, Seneca Falls, NY, this year. They cited the fact that there was not enough time for the various agencies to review the permits we applied for, even though we are still more than 30 days out from the show dates. In their defense, the directives from Gov. Andrew Cuomo tied their hands through lack of any clear guidance for an event like this.
Our attendees are from the rural areas of New York State that have had the fewest incidences of COVID-19. Our exhibitors are the essential businesses that have been open this entire time. What possible harm could come to the people of Seneca County except to have hotels and restaurants as busy as possible?
Empire Farm Days is not a county fair. We do not have rides, games or the concentration of attendees that county fairs have. This is an ag community business event. Now, over 400 ag businesses no longer have the opportunity to meet their customers. Numerous nonprofits have lost their only source of revenue. How is all of this economic activity ever going to be replaced?
We had a solid safety plan in place. We were aware of all the recommendations from the Health Department, Code Enforcement and Ag & Markets. We could have easily complied with all of them to make this event safe for attendees and exhibitors.
The following is an excerpt from our notification by Seneca County Attorney David Ettman: “A significant factor in the decision includes the current Executive Orders which prohibit gatherings in excess of 25 persons, except for narrowly defined exceptions. Your proposed event does not qualify for any of those exceptions. We have no reason to believe that any further lessening of the restrictions for your type of event will be forth coming. In addition, current Executive Orders would prohibit NY State Police assistance to Seneca County and Seneca Falls law enforcement, which we consider necessary to public safety surrounding your planned event. We are saddened that circumstances force the county to make this decision. However, we can only make decisions that protect the safety of our community as a whole.”
Our plan was solid; we would have a registration list of all attendees available, exhibits were going to be spread out even more than usual, numerous extra sanitation stations were going to be on the grounds and food services were going to comply with current dining regulations.
Empire Farm Days sincerely feels this is an injustice to the New York ag community, the small businesses and the nonprofit organizations in Seneca County that have benefitted from the event for the last 30-plus years.
Tentatively, our dates for next year’s event are Aug. 3 – 5, 2021. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or our website at EmpireFarmDays.com for details as they become available.