Local News

Festival event in Wendell under investigation for exceeding outdoor gathering limits

Posted September 21, 2020 3:10 p.m. EDT
Updated September 22, 2020 3:38 p.m. EDT

— Under Gov. Roy Cooper's current executive order, mass gatherings of 50 or more outdoors are prohibited.

Last weekend in Wendell, photos showed a festival event that appeared to violate that order.

Hundreds of people were seen in photographs – many without masks – and Dr. Nicole Mushonga from Wake County Health and Human Services found the images troubling.

"That is concerning for us," she said. "Wake County is doing really well in our cases and in our numbers and seeing the trend actually decreasing. We want to continue that, and having mass gatherings that exceed the limit definitely increase the chance of spread within our community."

According to a flyer for the event, Festival Fiestas Patrias was held at Gooch Sport Arena. A man who identified himself as property owner Donal Gooch, declined multiple requests for an interview and told WRAL News to leave.

He later posted to Facebook that all attendees were asked to wear masks and had their temperature taken at the event.

"Sanitizer was everywhere AND there is a mist system in the roof that was misting a disinfectant safe to humans," Gooch wrote. "I feel like this was THE BEST anyone has done it."

"Hispanic Heritage Month started September 15, and it goes through October 15," Veronica Aguilar, the communications coordinator for a local Latin American non-profit pointed out.

Aguilar did not comment on this specific event, but the representative for El Pueblo added that her group is working hard to make this year's celebrations safe amid the pandemic.

"We will have hand sanitizers and give out free masks," she said. "So I know our event will be very safe and thoughtfully planned out for our community."

As for the event over the weekend, the Wake County Sheriff’s office is not sure what repercussions anyone in attendance could face.

County health officials say if anyone who attended the event begins to feel sick, they should get tested for coronavirus.

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