FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Summer is fair and festival season in Northeast Indiana. However, with restrictions put in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many fair organizers are deciding to cancel events to keep the public safe.
In Adams County, Berne Swiss Days has been a tradition for 40 years. The festival features authentic Swiss costumes, food, craft vendors, and merchandise. The event is normally held the last full weekend in July but has been canceled this year. Officials say the decision was difficult and was made from the information given by the health department. One of the reasons was that 25 percent of the town’s population is 65 years or older, making them at high risk for catching the virus.
“The safety of the community was our top priority,” Berne Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Olivia Raugh said. “We know it brings in people from all over the United States and we wanted to make sure we were keeping our community and our at-risk population as healthy and safe as possible during this pandemic.”
Though the fair was canceled, Berne Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Olivia Raugh says the board is excited to start planning next year’s festival. Planning normally starts in August after the festival is complete.
“In 2021 we will have two years to plan for this,” Raugh said. “It’s going to be bigger and better. In 2021 we will have even more, be able to celebrate the tradition of Berne and the heritage, and be able to have pretty cool events and competitions.”
The Saint Joe Pickle Festival has also been canceled for 2020. Pickle Festival President Jeff Studebaker says that the organization typically starts preparing for the festival in early April. With the spread of COVID-19, the group delayed planning until May. The group was on the fence about whether to have the festival when Sechler’s Pickles, the main attraction, announced it would not be holding tours of its factory or offering free samples to try and limit the spread of the virus.
“It’s not a pickle festival without the pickle company,” Pickle Festival President Jeff Studebaker said. “That’s when we, unfortunately, decided to cancel the festival. It was a very hard and gruesome decision to make but in the interest of people’s safety and well being.”
This is the first time in 24 years that the festival has been canceled. But Studebaker says the festival will return next summer.
With the announcement of the Three Rivers Festival canceling WANE 15 reached out to see which festivals will be canceling this summer.
- Arab Festival
- FAME Festival
- Cherry Blossom Festival
- New Haven Canal Days
Other organizers say in the upcoming weeks they will hold a meeting to determine who to proceed whether that means continuing the event as planned, postponing, or canceling the event.
Every county holds a county 4-H Fair and on Friday fair organizers will have a meeting with Purdue officials to talk about what steps fairs will need to take to keep everyone safe. Then each county’s fair boards will take the information and hold a meeting to decide what is best for their event.
One event that is still planed is the New Haven Fire Muster. Officials say they will continue to monitor the COVID 19 situation but still plan on holding the event on August 22nd.
*This list is subject to change.