June Fest in Holley, Strawberry Festival in Albion both cancelled

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 March 2021 at 2:38 pm

Organizers cite limits on crowd sizes, public health concerns

Photos by Tom Rivers: The Attaboys perform in the food court on June 8, 2018 during the Albion Strawberry Festival. The food court is a busy place on Bank Street with vendors and live music.

The community festivals in Holley and Albion – annual traditions that draw thousands of people together in June – are cancelled again this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The events also were wiped out in 2020.

Holley’s June Fest would have been the first Saturday in June with Albion’s a week later on June 11-12.

Organizers cited public health concerns with bringing lots of people together in close proximity. A big crowd isn’t a possibility, anyway, with the state guidelines. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last week that beginning March 22 outdoor social gatherings can be increased from 100 to 200 people. What the cap size will be in June is a big unknown for people trying to plan a festival.

“It takes a long time to put these together and there are changes just coming forward,” said Debbie Schiavone, Holley’s village clerk.

She worries too if there was a limit on the crowd size who would be tasked with counting the attendees and enforcing the crowd limit.

Holley village officials are hopeful the village will be able to do its Friday night concert series this summer at the Canal Park gazebo.

Holley usually caps off the June Fest with fireworks. This photo was taken June 2, 2018 with the firworks reflected over the Erie Canal.

In Albion, the Strawberry Festival also has been cancelled for the second year. Don Bishop, one of the organizers, said he doesn’t see how the festival could go on three months from now and meet all the public health guidelines.

The parade on Saturday can bring out 10,000 people, he said.

“It’s mostly common sense to not do it this year with social distancing and having crowds of people together with no control,” Bishop said.

There have been about 80 craft vendors on the Courthouse Square, and 20-25 different food vendors on East Bank Street for the festival. Many of those vendors have five or more staff or assistants helping to prepare food.

“When you think how crowded Bank Street is you can hardly move shoulder to shoulder,” Bishop said. “It’s not that we don’t want to do it, it’s just a non-brainer.”

The Strawberry Festival is sponsored by the Albion Rotary Club. That organization will be bringing back another one of its big events that was cancelled last year. The Rotary Fishing Derby will be Aug. 7-22 with $8,800 in prizes, including a $4,000 grand prize for the heaviest fish caught.

June Persia also is one the organizers for the Strawberry Festival. With the main festival cancelled, she is helping to organize a craft fair with other activities on June 12 at the Arnold Gregory Office Complex. That event will be a fundraiser for COVA. Persia wants the crafters to keep Albion on their schedule for the second weekend in June.

Bert Gallmon, the director of the Strawberry Festival 5K/8K, also expects that race will be able to happen on June 12.