JOHNSON CITY (WBNG) — After 51 years, Johnson City Field Days has been canceled due to an increase in safety concerns and loss of major vendors, organizers told 12 News.
“It’s been an issue with some of the clientele and the problems we’ve been having, the vandalism, things that we don’t like to see,” organizer Harry Lewis said. “We try to keep is a very clean family event and we were pretty successful at that for all these years.”
The event has been getting more dangerous over the past four years, Lewis said. The Johnson City Celebrations Committee decided to cancel the event after conversations with police and village officials.
“If you have to have [four] police agencies for an event that is supposed to be family oriented and fun, you’ve really got to think about it,” organizer Matthew Cunningham said. “Is this really a direction we want to go in? Is something going to happen that is tragic?”
“There is just so much negativity towards people coming out and having a good time that they just want to see how much trouble they can cause,” Cunningham continued.
The event is very different from day to night, switching to family friendly to overrun with rowdy teens, Lewis said. It resulted in tents being slashed, fights breaking out and people pouring into the neighborhoods surrounding North Side Park.
“The best thing would be if it was just a during the day event because when it starts getting dark, that’s when people aren’t coming to have fun, they’re not coming to ride the rides, they’re not coming to buy food,” organizer Kim Cunningham said.
A teen even ran through the crowd a few years ago with a gun, Cunningham said. Once police are able to control one area of the crowd, teens begin to cause dangerous situations in another part of the park, Lewis said.
Organizers do not plan on resuming the event unless safety can be improved. They plan on continuing to run the Christmas Lights on the Carousal event and using that to generate funds for non-profits that benefited from Field Days.
One of those non-profit organizations is Johnson City Little League. In a statement to 12 News, President Andrew Holbert said:
“The field days was one of our major fundraisers for the year. It helps offset the cost of our summer baseball and softball teams. Player costs could double if we cannot find a way to fundraise the money. It’s unfortunate they could not find to make it work. I wish we could have known sooner.”
“It’s a lot of work, you have to start a year in advance,” Kim Cunningham said. “Getting the bands, the applications that we have to fill out to get the fireworks and we get the stage. It is a lot of work, but just seeing so many happy people is worth it.”
“It was a great thing to have, all the good things you hear about it, there are people that are negative sometimes no matter what you have. For the most part, it was always a great show for the weekend,” said Lewis.