Hometown Days 2019 (copy)

From left, Ava Hammersley, Matthew Hammersley, Nathan Hammersley and Elizabeth Paul get whipped around the Tilt-A-Whirl at the annual Hometown Days festival on Friday, May 31, 2019.

Hometown Days has been pushed back by more than two months.

The Verona Area Chamber of Commerce announced the new date – Aug. 21-23 – by email on Wednesday, April 22, referencing the state’s extended Safer at Home order, which restricts social gatherings.

“Based on the extended order and the state’s Badger Bounce Back Plan it is unrealistic to believe we could hold Hometown Days the first weekend of June,” Le Jordan, executive director of the Chamber, wrote.

The annual event had been scheduled to take place June 5-7 at Hometown USA Festival Park.

Organized by the Chamber the past few years, the event has been a longstanding tradition, going back to the 1972 celebration of Verona’s 125th anniversary. It includes a carnival and rides, live music, a food court and beer tent, petting farm, the Hometown Hustle Twilight 5K, a parade and a fireworks show.

While other community summer events in the area, such as Syttende Mai in Stoughton, Festa Italia in Fitchburg and Summer Fest in Oregon have been outright canceled or postponed indefinitely, chamber staff decided to take their chances and reschedule Hometown Days.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed,” Jordan told the Press. “I figure it’s better to be optimistic. We’re hoping for good weather – we think it will be a nice change. By that point in August, we’re hoping everything is going to be opened up again and people are going to be excited about getting out and it’s going to be our best ever Hometown Days.”

Jordan said based upon the availability of the carnival, the chamber was left with two possible dates to reschedule. She said the other date was in late September, but as the chamber still plans to hold Fall Fest, it would be too overwhelming to hold both events in the same month.

The change in dates did not affect the planned programming for Hometown Days. Jordan said that all entertainment and vendors have already been re-booked.

“We’ve rescheduled everything – every single solitary thing – bands, the magician, petting zoo, the children’s singer, our volunteers for fencing, the ice distributor, tents and staging – literally every single thing is rescheduled except for the Hometown Hustle run, and we may move that to Fall Fest – everything fell into place,” Jordan said.

Other than potentially delaying the Hometown Hustle, the only other change is that the bands Cherry Pie and Wheelhouse swapped performance times with each other, she said.

While initially the chamber planned to wait to reschedule until closer to the June event date, Jordan knew vendors would have limited availability as other regional events would also have to be rescheduled under the extended Safer at Home order, which is the reason she decided to make the move now. She referenced a phased-in restoration of normal activities in the extended order and the subsequent Badger Bounce Back Plan.

“We are guardedly optimistic that we will be able to have it in August,” she said. “I feel that things are going to really have to take a downturn or be worse than what we’re hearing now for it to not be able to go in August.”

Neal Patten, community reporter, can be contacted at neal.patten@wcinet.com.