FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A big fundraiser for Homestead High School’s marching band, the Johnny Appleseed Festival, has been cancelled this year, a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several community groups, schools and churches use the festival as a fundraiser by selling food or other handcrafted items. On a good year, Homestead’s band supporters can earn between $60,000 and $70,000 by selling bowls of chicken and dumplings.

“It’s been something that has been a part of our program for a very long time,” Director of Bands Bryen Warfield told WANE 15. “Our parents get dressed in period clothing and they work extremely hard for weeks, not only planning it, but preparing the food that is cooked at the festival and serve to the thousands of people that attend that festival. It’s something that’s near and dear to our program and has for a really long time.”

The move by festival organizers wasn’t unexpected by band leaders. They’ve been considering a so-called Plan B to make up lost funds, including working on plans to potentially serve the famed chicken and dumplings at the school or another location.

“Obviously it’s very sad because it’s something we look forward to every year,” Warfield said about the cancellation. “But safety is the biggest concern for everybody right now.”

Warfield anticipates seeing about 250 students be a part of the band in the upcoming school year. Musicians are expected to reunite on July 20, for the first time since March.