Strawberry Festival cancelled due to health concerns with drawing big crowd

Photos by Tom Rivers: Sheryl Watts, owner and artistic designer of Air Raising Events, made a strawberry costume out of balloons in marched in last year’s Strawberry Festival Parade on June 8.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 March 2020 at 3:50 pm

ALBION – The 34thannual Albion Strawberry Festival, scheduled for June 12-13, has already been cancelled due to the health concerns with drawing several thousand people together in the Albion downtown and Courthouse Square.

The number of coronavirus cases has steadily been increasing, with the state banning any public gatherings with more than 10 people.

Costumed characters from Enchanted Princess Parties of Rochester met many people along the parade route.

No one knows for certain if the ban will be lifted in June. But the Albion Rotary Club, sponsor of the Strawberry Festival, decided to not wait to see if the situation changes.

Dick Remley, Rotary Club president, said there were practical issues getting in the way of putting on the festival. Rotary International carries the insurance for the event but notified Rotary Clubs it was cancelling insurance in the short-term for any events that were public gatherings. Remley doubts another insurer could be found for the event given the concerns with the coronavirus.

He also said the Rotary Club has an ethical duty to the community to not put people at risk of contracting the virus.

The Strawberry Festival draws a big crowd to the downtown and Courthouse Square for a parade, live music, and food and craft vendors.

“We felt there was a moral obligation to think of the community’s health and welfare,” Remley said. “We felt it was prudent to cancel.”

Remley is also the Albion town supervisor and has closed the town hall to the public due to concerns about the virus.

The festival should be back next year on June 11-12, said Don Bishop, a member of the Strawberry Festival Committee. Many of the craft and food vendors had already sent in deposits. Their money will be returned to them.

Bishop said the committee couldn’t meet in person because of the crackdown of gatherings larger than 10 people. They had two recent meetings online through Zoom.

Bishop supports canceling the festival this year, and coming back next year.

“We didn’t want thousands of people there with possibility of someone passing the infection to a whole crowd,” he said.

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