BENNINGTON -- Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce members are citing the recent government shutdown as a reason to extend the Catamount Grand Gala and Auction, originally scheduled to be held Saturday, Oct. 26.
Chamber President Lindy Lynch announced Friday during a press conference that the event would now take place sometime during the spring of 2014.
"Everyone in America is aware of the recent government shutdown and how it adversely affected business," Lynch said during a press conference Friday afternoon. "The consequence was many delays, cancellations and postponements throughout the country. As a result, the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce has made the decision to extend this event."
Lynch explained that chamber members felt an extension "made sense" after recent changes in health care, on top of the shutdown, left people feeling "preoccupied."
"We think that possibly the gala and the date got shoved to the side on peoples' agendas," Lynch said. "We want this to be the best ever gala for the artists and the sponsors raising money -- we think a later date is more appropriate."
Lynch added that the extension would also benefit many of the local businesses that have sponsored the Catamount Prowl.
"This extension will give our local merchants time to focus on the very busy holiday season and return to normal after the government shutdown," she said.
According to a release distributed by the Bennington Chamber of Commerce Friday, holiday season spending is expected to be up 4 percent over last year.
According to Lynch, all of the catamount artists and sponsors of the event have been notified of its extension.
The majority is in support of the decision, she said, especially since the original date of the gala conflicted with an artist gathering in Montpelier, during which time Gov. Peter Shumlin is slated to distribute awards to some of the artists.
"A lot of things went into this decision and we really feel spring will be a great date," Lynch said. "We now just need to pick that date."
Lynch went on to extend her thanks to the public, on behalf of the chamber for their "positive support" of the Catamount Prowl project.
The catamounts, Lynch said, would be "hibernating" for the winter months but will re-emerge in the spring at a "secret location" prior to the gala.
Chamber Director Joann Erenhouse noted that the catamounts would be displayed on the streets of Bennington through Fallapalooza on Oct. 26.
The gala's new date and time will be released in the near future, according to Lynch, and all invitees will be updated as information becomes available.
Proxy bids may still be submitted to the chamber by visiting catamountprowl.com or by calling the chamber office at 802-447-3311.
Contact Elizabeth A. Conkey at email@example.com or follow on Twitter @bethconkey.