DENTON, N.C. — It’s one of the largest tractor shows in the southeast and despite Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order that bans gatherings of more than 25 people, the 50th-annual Thresher’s Reunion kicked off Tuesday morning at Denton FarmPark.
Face masks, partitions and 175 acres worth of social distancing.
“It’s feels a whole lot more spread out than it used to be,” particpant Brent Carrick said.
The annual Thresher’s Reunion is one of the largest events in Davidson County and celebrates the history of southern agriculture.
“I’ve had as high as 50,000 [people] but this year we look for it to be way down,” said Tim Loflin, event organizer.
Loflin’s uncle Brown started the Thresher’s Reunion five decades ago and Loflin said his uncle passed away this year. This week’s event is a tribute to him.
Loflin looked to the Davidson County Health Department for guidance on how to still hold the Thresher’s Reunion and installed sanitizing stations, spaced out seating and painted six-foot markers in front of every booth.
“We believe in being safe here,” Loflin said.
Carrick lives nearby in Davidson County and expected the reunion to be canceled because of the pandemic, like many other summer activities in the Piedmont.
“I’m surprised this wasn’t. I’m glad it’s not because I like coming to it,” Carrick said.
As for the new mask mandate — organizers encourage people to wear a face covering but say they can’t force them to. Carrick told FOX8 he chose not to wear one Tuesday because he has breathing problems. For those who do wear them, like Abby and Chloe Craghead, they told FOX8 they felt safe.
“It’s just so spread out I’m not really that worried about it,” said Abby Craghead, who traveled from West Virginia to attend the Thresher’s Reunion.
“We encourage people, if they don’t feel comfortable, not to come out to Denton FarmPark,” Loflin said.
FOX8 reached out to state health officials to find out if organizers were granted a waiver to hold the reunion. The state referred us to the county health department. A Davidson County Health Department spokesperson sent us the following:
“The health department provided recommendations to the event organizers for best practices in cleaning and disinfecting. The food vendors will be inspected as usual by the health department, as this is the only area of the event we have regulatory authority.”
FOX8 also contacted the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office and was told since the Thresher’s Reunion is an agricultural fair with a farmer’s market that it is exempt from governor’s orders.