The North Carolina Blackberry Festival has been canceled for the second year in a row, but organizers plan to hold a county-wide scavenger hunt instead, the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce said.

The festival, usually held in downtown Lenoir on the second weekend of July, was canceled again this year partially because the chamber, which organizes the festival, was concerned about the spread of the coronavirus, said Bryan Moore, the Chamber’s president and CEO.

Additionally, Moore said, the chamber no longer has a staff member dedicated to planning the event. That person was laid off because of the pandemic and a lack of funding.

“We would’ve needed someone hired this past December to plan a festival this far out,” Moore said.

Moore said because the pandemic has left many small businesses struggling, the chamber is instead holding a blackberry-themed scavenger hunt similar to the hunt held in downtown Lenoir for St. Patrick’s Day.

The hunt will involve businesses all over Caldwell County, not just chamber members, so any business owner who wishes may participate, Moore said.

The chamber will use its Facebook group, Explore Caldwell: Eat. Shop. Play, to promote the hunt. (The Facebook group, which was created at the beginning of the pandemic to help the community access takeout from restaurants that were closed, formerly was known as Caldwell County Take Out and Delivery.)

The chamber also plans to work with blackberry growers to hold a blackberry pickup day, establishing a central site for people to drive up and purchase berries, Moore said.

“There’s a lot of excitement. It’s going to look a little bit different than the traditional Blackberry Festival,” Moore said.

Reporter Kara Fohner can be reached at 828-610-8721.

Reporter Kara Fohner can be reached at 828-610-8721.