Some festivities to return this summer

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Many festivals and fairs taking place this year are to look different compared to pre-pandemic years.

As summertime approaches, some Wisconsin festivals and fairs are making the decision of whether or not to reopen this year.

Soon after former President Donald Trump declared a state of national emergency March 13, 2020, Wisconsin entered a statewide stay-at-home order. Gatherings between households were banned, social distancing measures were widely enforced and residents were directed to stay at home as much as possible.

Throughout the next several months, much changed in the state. With the statewide mask mandate enforced July 3, this previous summer was one of constant change and adaptation.

Due to concerns and regulations regarding COVID-19, many well-known festivities were cancelled for the 2020 season.

With summer approaching once more, most festivals and fairs are facing the decision of whether or not to reopen.

“I would love to attend fairs or festivals this summer. With more people being vaccinated and regulations still in place to keep people as safe as possible, I believe it wouldn’t be a bad decision,” Ayelia Moore, senior, said.

There are still some concerns over the questionable extent of safety festivals and fairs would be able to provide visitors.

“I don’t really hope to attend festivals or fairs just because the threat of COVID that still looms,” Maura Whitaker, sophomore, said. “It would be nice if everything could go back to normal, and then I would go, but until then, I don’t think I would feel comfortable in a place with that many people and surfaces being shared by them.”

Cedarburg’s Strawberry Festival has been one festival to declare its decision.

Originally scheduled to take place June 26-27, officials announced on April 22 that it would be canceled for the second consecutive year.

The Festival of Cedarburg board based the decision on pandemic health matters. “Based upon current CDC guidelines and COVID trends, it was in the best interest of the public,” officials said in a news release.

While some parts of the community have expressed sourness towards the decision through petitions and phone calls, there is still the encouraging news of September’s Wine and Harvest Festival and Oktoberfest currently remaining on the 2021 schedule.

“I believe that this (cancelation) will eventually help Strawberry Fest and other festivals like it to return sooner rather than later,” Whitaker said.

Meanwhile, some festivities are choosing a different course of action.

Wisconsin State Fair Park was also canceled last year due to the pandemic, the first time in 75 years that it was be held. However, the Fair has announced its revival for the 2021 season, taking place August 5 through August 15.

“We are happy to confirm there are WonderFair days ahead and are excited to safely gather to celebrate everything we are so proud of in Wisconsin,” Kathleen O’Leary, Wisconsin State Fair Park CEO, said.

Officials said the fair will take place in accordance to health guidelines, and they plan to release protocols for attending the fair in coming months.

“The safety and health of all visitors and employees at Wisconsin State Fair Park is our top priority,” according to fair officials.

Increased sanitization protocols have been implemented, and the fair has provided on their website a list of postponed and cancelled events. As of current news, capacity limits are still an unknown factor for the 200-acre fairgrounds.

“There is absolutely no question in my 24-year of working at the Wisconsin State Fair this will be the most challenging year for everyone involved,” O’Leary said.

“The Wisconsin State Fair reopening is exciting news,” Moore said. “But with so many people touching animals and then eating fair food, I would hope for there to be more cleaning stations available throughout the grounds.”

“I think that it is good that some festivals and fairs are being cancelled because it will help to keep COVID cases down,” Whitaker said. “As long as this happens, and more people decide to get the vaccine or keep up COVID procedures, I would hope that the closure of these festivals this year will allow them to be open next year.”

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