AKRON, Ohio — The City of Akron has canceled its annual Rib, White and Blue Festival for 4th of July weekend, according to a press release.
The city encourages residents and guests to find alternative celebration opportunities for the holiday weekend. Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan addresses that while this may be a time of celebration for most, it is not the time for Akron.
The announcement comes following the fatal shooting of a 25-year-old man by Akron Police on Monday, and whose death has sparked two small protests and an emotional news conference with his family demanding answers.
“I completely understand that some residents and guests will be disappointed by the decision to cancel the festival this holiday weekend,” said Horrigan. “Independence Day is meant to be a celebration and a time of gathering with friends and family. Unfortunately, I feel strongly that this is not the time for a city-led celebration.”
Charly Murphy, of Stray Dog Cafe, planned on attending and operating two food trucks at the festival.
"We have Stray Dog hot dog carts. We have the big, blue barbecue truck, you’ll find that in downtown Akron quite a bit, and the Akron Pickle Truck was going to make its debut, opening tomorrow. at the Akron Rib Festival," he said.
Murphy is disappointed in the cancellation and lack of sales on a huge holiday weekend.
"The food truck really helps draw people into the restaurant week to week. It’s a huge jump in sales. It helps us pay our bills and keep things going," he said. "Tens of thousands pass by, even if they don’t shop with us. they see our brand and they get a taste of who we are and what we offer."
But said he understands.
"I feel confident that they made the best decision they could with the information they had," he said.
He told News 5 he's not sure if he'll be able to find another festival this weekend at the last minute.
New 5 also spoke to people who were planning on attending the festival.
Laura Booker said the festival is always a happy occasion, but she doesn't feel like it's a happy time in the city.
"It is kind of hard to celebrate when a young person’s life was snuffed out," she said.
Her daughter, Hunter Williams, echoed her sentiment.
"It is such a joyous time to be associated with such a tragedy and a, seemingly, senseless tragedy," she said.
The two said they're praying for justice, answers, and healing for the city.
"We pray for the heart of Akron to be made alive and to pump again, and that family finds peace," said Booker.
All vendors and musical acts who were originally booked will be notified and compensated accordingly.
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