Summer in Oregon will feel a little different this year.
The 56th annual Summer Fest has been postponed indefinitely, according to a Tuesday, April 21, announcement by the Oregon Area Chamber of Commerce. Executive director Judy Knutson said the health and safety of the community are the first priorities for the chamber.
“We don’t want to put our vendors or community in harm’s way,” she said.
Roughly 15,000 people come to the four day festival each year and the village sees an increase in economic activity for vendors, hotels, restaurants, area businesses and nonprofits. This year, Summer Fest was scheduled for June 18-21, and organizers have been planning for nearly a year, Knutson said.
However, given the uncertainty of social distancing orders and restrictions of large groups, chamber officials decided to indefinitely postpone this year’s event on April 15. Knutson said the chamber had to make the decision to cancel or postpone the festival by April 18, she said. Contracts with vendors including portable bathrooms, the carnival, tent rental, fireworks and three bands included a 60 day notification clause, otherwise the chamber could have lost out on roughly $15,000 dollars.
For now, the chamber is going to prioritize helping businesses reopen.
Uriah Carpenter, past president of the Oregon Rotary, has been selling hamburgers and brats at Summer Fest for 15 years. The event is their biggest fundraiser, averaging about $4,000 each summer, and has traditionally funded events such as the Bike Rodeo, high school scholarships and Badger state sponsorships.
Carpenter said although he is disappointed there will be no festival this summer, he hopes new fundraising opportunities come from the postponement.
“Sometimes you need a little bit of a push to do something new,” he said. “Maybe this is an opportunity where we are looking for a new fall fundraiser.”