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Pandemic takes a financial hit on Jackson County attraction

Published: Feb. 16, 2021 at 5:40 PM EST
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JACKSON COUNTY, W.Va. (WTAP) - Even with an uncertain future, the Cedar Lakes Conference Center and Campground has been involved in expanding and renovating one of its biggest attraction.s.

“The buildings were not large enough to handle the crowd,” says Mike Ruben, Director, Ripley Convention and Visitors Bureau, “so with that in mind, they’re expanding the assembly hall to where it can contain large events such as the FFA convention.”

But no major events have been held there since the start of the pandemic nearly a year ago. The site’s highest-profile event, the Mountain State Arts and Crafts Fair, didn’t happen in 2020. But that’s far from the only event it hosts.

“They bring everything there from 4-H camps to band camps to a year-round craft workshop that brings visitors to the Jackson County community from all over the country,” Ruben says.

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture took control of the site a few years ago. But the Senate Finance Committee was told Monday it faces a $1.4 million shortfall, with no guarantees yet major events will be held there this year.

A Jackson County delegate says he’s spoken to the governor’s office about the situation. He plans to discuss it with the agriculture department Wednesday. He’s been told federal stimulus money through the state cannot be used to fund it.

“We don’t have any state parks in our area,” says Republican Delegate Steve Westfall, “but all of the public uses that for the walking and hiking trails and bicycling and other activities. So I’m very concerned about it.”

Karen Facemyer, Director of the Cedar Lakes Foundation, says the pandemic hit just as the complex was on track for a record year in 2020.

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