Every once in a while something happens that just leaves us stunned.
That’s where we are today with the news that on almost no notice our area’s largest annual event has been forced out of its downtown location on Bankhead Street in front of the Union County Courthouse.
Many of the events of our annual RiverFest festival, which will be held today and tomorrow, have been moved to the city parking lot on Carter Avenue near the Union County Library. The move includes all of the arts and crafts vendors, the food vendors and the main stage for music concerts.
The reason? Because the sentencing hearing in a capital murder case is going on at the Courthouse and Circuit Judge John A. Gregory does not want the distraction from the music and the crowd to be heard in the courtroom.
We wouldn’t want the distraction either. But that’s not the issue as we see it. The real issue is why a sentencing hearing in a capital murder case was scheduled for this week in New Albany. Have it last week or next week or any week but RiverFest week. It’s not as though David Neal Cox Sr., who already has pleaded guilty, is going anywhere.
RiverFest has been a major event in our community for 20 years. It’s an economic driver that is important to our merchants and the thousands of people from several counties who attend. It is held on the same weekend every year. It should not have come as a surprise to the judge, the court or its employees, who must shoulder the responsibility for this screw up.
There is little chance to showcase the ambiance of our historic downtown and our historic courthouse in a city parking lot. This should not happen again.