Utica Fest has made the call.
This year would have been the 50th festival with tractor pulls, live music bands and baseball. But with Dane County COVID-19 gathering restrictions, David Smithback, president of the Utica Community Association, said the group had to make the decision to cancel.
The fundraiser, which was planned for Friday, Aug. 7, through Sunday, Aug. 9, at Utica Community Association Park, 1390 Cty. Hwy. B, brings in as many as 8,000 people. It started in 1971, and was only canceled once due to rain in 1987, Smithback said.
But there will be a little bit of the festival still happening – the Sunday evening firework show has been rescheduled for dusk Friday, Aug. 7. Smithback said there will be ice cream, bottled water available for children and participants should stay in their vehicles to watch the show.
When the association announced the cancelation on Facebook, July 8, there was a huge response from participants, Smithback, who has been president of the association for 33 years, said.
“We put it on Facebook around 8 p.m. Wednesday and by 8 a.m. the next morning we reached 14,000 people,” he said. “That is pretty good for little Utica.”
Dane County’s restrictions were the deciding factor in canceling the event, Smithback said. If the park would have been roughly six miles east in Jefferson County, the event would have “absolutely” still happened, he added.
“I go to the Jefferson (Speedway) races and there are no masks, no distancing at all and there are 3-4,000 people there,” he said.
Some of the more popular events each year at Utica Fest include a slow-pitch softball tournament that runs all weekend, the Wisconsin Horse Pullers Association Horse Pull, several tractor and truck pulls, plenty of live music and fireworks at dusk on Sunday, as well as the weekend long concessions and beer tent.
Each year proceeds from the event are donated to the Utica Park and to scholarships for students who volunteer at the festival.