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NEW: Herndon Festival permanently canceled after 43 years

Herndon Festival 2023 at night (via Herndon Festival/Facebook)

One of the Town of Herndon’s staple events is officially no more.

The Herndon Festival has been canceled for good, the town’s parks and recreation department announced today (Monday).

In a video statement explaining the change, town officials said the decision was made due to a combination of issues like increased logistical challenges, security and accessibility concerns, and lack of volunteers to maintain and support what has been a cornerstone event in Herndon for 43 years.

While lauding community organizations and volunteers for their efforts in maintaining the festival, Mayor Sheila Olem said issues with attracting volunteers also contributed to the decision.

“Over the years, the decline in volunteerism and volunteer organizations who were the backbone of the festival has been problematic,” Olem said.

The town invests more than 1,000 hours per year into the event, in addition to 1,000 volunteer hours, she said.

Started in 1981, the festival was traditionally located in downtown Herndon, but it got moved in 2019 to the Northwest Federal Credit Union campus in anticipation of developer Comstock starting construction on its redevelopment project — which still hasn’t begun.

Town Manager Bill Ashton II said the town can’t simply shift the festival back to downtown Herndon, because staffing and security issues remain at that location as well.

“We understand the significance of the Herndon Festival in our community,” Ashton said. “The decision to close the festival is not easy.”

In previous years, the event had lost some of its traditional elements. Last year, the festival pivoted to a carnival, and the COVID-19 pandemic also led to a two-year pause in the festivities.

Cindy Roeder, director of the town’s parks and recreation department, said the department will continue to find new ways to bring the community together.

“For over 40 years, the Herndon Festival has been a source of joy, laughter and connection for our community,” she said.

Photo via Herndon Festival/Facebook

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