Hill Fest added to cancellations

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Let's clean out the notebook ... 

• Hill Fest in Carbon Hill has now been cancelled, according to a post put on the festival's Facebook page. No reason was given for the cancellation, and I have not been able to reach one of the organizers, but I imagine it has to be the COVID-19 virus.

It is not alone. Parrish's Coalfest didn't take place, the Foothills Festival in Jasper has been delayed until spring 2021. Rock the South in Cullman and Frog Fest in Sumiton are now cancelled. I've heard no status on Mule Day in Winfield. However, with national news coverage mentioning cases continuing the increase in Alabama, I am not surprised.

I am wondering if Fourth of July fireworks celebrations will go on as usual, be held without formal gatherings or cancelled altogether. Past that, attention will turn to Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, although it is too early likely to pass judgement on those yet. At the same time, I am not too hopeful.

I thought it was noteworthy state Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris was quoted by WBRC as saying he was concerned at transmissions in some communities and that he cannot pinpoint why some areas like Montgomery are still climbing in cases. 

"We've seen an increase in testing, but I don't think that explains it," he said.

I'm in agreement. I don't care how much you make fun of masks and etiquette, we're far from being out of the woods. Worse yet, a new poll says only half of the U.S. population would take a vaccine. 

• Late word: Walt Disney World will open its parks in July (a month after Universal nearby), spread over two dates and with tons of precautions such as required masks, temperature checks, social distancing, capacity restrictions and some attractions still closed. 

• The Walker County Grand Jury will meet on June 2, with special permission obtained from the state. 

Presiding Circuit Judge Hoyt Elliott wrote to the state agency over the courts on May 15, noting District Attorney Bill Adair "previously convened a grand jury which met on at least one occasion prior to the imposition of the limitations on court proceedings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They of course have been in recess since then. 

 "Mr. Adair wishes to call the grand jury back on June 2, 2020.  He has one significant case particularly in which the statute of limitations will expire if not presented promptly, in addition to the number of cases unaddressed continuing to mount. Mr. Adair advises me that there are 18 people on the jury and that he or his staff have personally contacted each of them by phone and none of them are opposed to being called to meet. He further advises me that, if allowed to meet, the jurors can be accommodated by the distancing suggestions of the State Health Officer and that the precautionary measures prescribed by the Alabama Supreme Court and the State Health Officer will be observed."

Chief Justice Tom Parker of the Alabama Supreme Court gave approval later that day, and Elliott let me know about it as well, just so everyone was on the same page. 

• It is interesting to see how the restaurants locally are responding. On Memorial Day, Jim and Nick's has a sign posted on the door saying its dining area was closed, although it seemed to be doing well at the drive-through. I did carry out at Johnny Brusco's this week, and just about all the tables not part of booth space were moved out. 

Dad and I decided to take a plunge Saturday and go to Cracker Barrel just to gauge how it was doing with the dining area open. Michael Hunter (freshly graduated the night before, much to the pride of father Todd Hunter, I'm sure) met us outside to take names; you could wait in cars or on the porch. In a few minutes, we went in, where merchandise seemed moved out in the front of the store. 

In the dining area, some areas looked more allowed for eating than others, but the salt and pepper, the peg games and such were missing. The menu looked streamlined. I did ask for plastic utensils as a precaution, although I was told later regular utensils are put through the wash like three times. Overall, I felt safe enough.

There were signs saying they were glad to have people back. Someone checked on us in that vein, and indicated they were pleased with the take out response. 

Being at risk, I still want to limit going out to eat physically, but I am still going through the drive-in many times to support our local restaurants. 

• Coming back from covering graduation in Carbon Hill - I found the kids gathering in the gym, so I took my photos and got out quick - I arrived at the apartments just as electricity was returning after storms that night. I lost internet until Monday morning, with only cell service on the phone; Roku was lost to me. You have no idea how bored I was. But I heard power went off other times in the weekend, and someone at the office lost their air conditioning for a day or two. 

The situation was such that I checked on the app for Great Clips Sunday afternoon and found no one waiting. I raced in with a mask, was told to wash my hands first, and then got a quick cut. It was close to time for getting a burger, so I walked in Five Below for a few minutes - I think it was my first time. 

They had some strawberry-flavored Pocky, which has been wildly successful in Japan as a chocolate-coated biscuit sticks that branched to other flavors. (Winfield native Darrell Kicker taught in Japan and sent me back some years ago, but you now find it sometimes in the U.S.) I was surprised to see the check out was all self-service. 

Monday I was still bored and went to fill up on gas and stopped by Belk late in the afternoon to buy a couple of new towels. They were pushing 60 percent off in almost all directions - I also got a good deal on wireless ear phones at check out - and it wasn't crowded at all, but pants was ruled out as I saw the dressing room was closed off. 

Of course, I have to point out that I knew I would not be encountering great crowds on Memorial Day weekend late in the afternoon, and I was right, so I was able to keep distance.

• I sometimes think I've seen it all for movies, and then TCM pulls out something else. Turns out the Rankin/Bass people who did all the stop-motion holiday TV shows like Rudolph, "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," and the like also made three films in the 1960s: One in drawn animation (a 1967 dud on Mother Goose), one in complete stop-motion ("Mad Monster Party?" from 1967), and one with live-action and stop motion combined ("The Daydreamer," based on Hans Christian Andersen and his stories, in 1966). The monster version, more in the line of the holiday TV shows, has become somewhat a cult favorite, with Boris Karloff voicing Dr. Frankenstein; it is on video.