STRASBURG – For the first time in the 35-year history of Strasburg’s Mayfest, U.S. Route 11 will be closed for vehicle traffic.
U.S. 11, from Capon Street to where King Street becomes Massanutten Street, will be closed from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday so that pedestrians attending the festival have safe places to walk. Lloyd Ingram, transportation engineer with the Virginia Department of Transportation, said people will be able to drive on U.S. 11 if there’s an emergency on Interstate 81.
“All vendors are supposed to be parked within the parking spots so that the actual travel lanes are open,” Ingram said. “Pedestrians can walk in the travel lanes, but if we need to utilize it for something from I-81, we just pull the barricades from the end and tell the people to get off the street and open it up to traffic.”
Traffic coming into or going out of Strasburg on U.S. 11 will be directed to Washington Street. According to Strasburg Mayor Rich Orndorff, there will also be town police officers helping redirect traffic, along with barricades. Orndorff also said that despite the road closure, Strasburg’s police department and fire and rescue will be able to conduct business as usual.
The closure of U.S. 11 for Mayfest, or any other event in Strasburg’s history, is something Orndorff says is completely new. He added that the closure request was made as an added safety measure.
“It (U.S. 11) has never been closed for Mayfest, and I’m not aware that it’s been closed for any festivals or functions as long as I can remember,” Orndorff said.
“I’ve been involved with Mayfest, through the Chamber of Commerce for 18 or 19 Mayfests and each year we try to make it as safe as possible by placing the vendors on the sidewalks and coning off the parking areas, allowing pedestrians to move in the parking spots,” he added. “We just had numerous requests and suggestions by citizens and people that attend the event saying, ‘Is there a way that we can close it? Other communities do.’ So I just made it a concentrated effort to work with VDOT, and VDOT was extremely helpful.”
Orndorff credits the longevity of Mayfest as a key reason for the U.S. 11 closure and said that this will definitely help with the feel of the weekend’s festival.
“I think doing it over a 35-year period speaks volumes,” Orndorff said. “Festivals have their ups and downs.
We’ve experienced bad weather over the last several years and that’s hindered attendance. It looks to be a beautiful weekend and this is the largest festival we have here in Strasburg, and I think that speaks volumes.”
Contact staff writer Justin McIlwee at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org