KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – The 74th Annual Kingsport Chamber Dinner has been postponed until next year as COVID-19 cases rise in the Tri-Cities region.
According to a release from the Kingsport Chamber, the dinner will be held on February 4, 2022 at 6 p.m. The rescheduled event is planned to take place at the MeadowView Marriott Conference Resort & Convention Center.
“The difficult decision was made due to the rising number of COVID cases in the region, the increasing number of hospitalizations from COVID, the rampant spread of the Delta variant and, most certainly, the high percentage of unvaccinated people in the area,” the release states.
The event had already been pushed back to August 20 after originally being scheduled for February 2021.
“After much discussion and deliberation with our staff, Board chairs, volunteer leadership, and key stakeholders, we believe it is in the best interests of all to postpone this year’s Kingsport Chamber Annual Dinner,” said Bob Feagins, Kingsport Chamber Executive Director of Communications and Development. “We are moving forward with plans to host the event in February 2022. We greatly appreciate the support and understanding of all our sponsors and attendees, and we hopefully look forward to getting together next February.”
Sponsors and ticket holders will be able to transfer their sponsorships and tickets to 2022.
“This is a most-challenging and changing time, and we have to be able to adapt to present circumstances and do what our medical experts and the data advise,” said Paula Jackson, Kingsport Chamber Annual Dinner chair and WJHL News Channel 11/ABC Tri-Cities vice president and general manager. “We are proud partners of this event and the Kingsport Chamber, and we fully support this very hard but necessary decision. We look forward to what promises to be an incredibly awesome event next year.”
Eric Deaton, Chief Operating Officer at Ballad Health and Kingsport Chamber immediate past chair, said the rise in hospitalizations was a factor in rescheduling the event.
“With COVID-19 cases increasing over 450 percent in the past month within the Appalachian Highlands, hospitalizations exceeding 100 inpatients, and concern for continued local spread of the Delta variant of the virus, we appreciate the Kingsport Chamber’s decision to postpone the Annual Dinner,” said Deaton.
Feagins told News Channel 11 that the number of unvaccinated individuals in the region was one of the factors in deciding to postpone the event.
“We strongly encourage and strongly ask for people to please get vaccinated,” Feagins said. “Because that was one of the biggest reasons why we had to postpone the event, because of the high number of unvaccinated people in our region.”