Board decides to cancel Spirit of Shrewsbury Fall Festival 2020


Plans for 25th anniversary celebration shift to 2021


By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor

Board decides to cancel Spirit of Shrewsbury Fall Festival 2020

Shrewsbury – For the last 24 Septembers, the town of Shrewsbury has come together for a beloved tradition – the Spirt of Shrewsbury Fall Festival. Over the years, it has grown to a multi-day event, with a huge expo featuring the town’s businesses, nonprofits, community groups and vendors; a road race; cultural events; a tea to honor senior citizens; and a parade, among other things.

This year, the festival was to be bigger and better than ever, as organizers planned for a grand 25th year celebration. But then the coronavirus pandemic forced them to make the difficult decision to cancel the festival this year and instead, focus their attention on plans for festivities in 2021.

In a letter sent to board and committee members, festival President Maria Smith and Vice President Wayne Watkins noted that “clearly, the coronavirus and its devastating effects on this state, our country, and the world is at the core of our thoughts.”

Although many people have varying opinions on when the country and its economy should reopen, festival organizers have “responsibilities to a number of constituencies, but most important in our minds is our responsibility to our volunteers,” they said.

“We ask a great deal from you folks, whom we value so much, and from those who volunteer at the event itself, and we know that your primary responsibility during these difficult times is to your immediate and extended families, and to ask you to focus on something other than that, in this case the festival, is at best terribly unfair, and at worst, unconscionable.”

Additionally they had a responsibility to the community, Smith and Watkins said.

“We depend on them for their support, both in their attendance at the event and their willingness to spend their money in support of the event.  Our responsibility is to provide them with a quality event and to protect their well-being when they attend.  We believe that we will still be dealing with the virus in September, and that community support may be limited,” they said. “So many people are hurting from the economic effect of the virus that attendance may well be limited, and we will probably still be dealing with social distancing, masking, etc.  We might very well hesitate to ask our own children and grandchildren to attend.”

“Our vendors provide us with a great deal of support.  Police officers, bus drivers, pizza providers, janitors, the many kids that work at the festival, garbage collection people, and so forth count on us for a well-organized and safe event, and given the uncertain nature of the situation at this point, we are not certain that we can provide that,” they added.

Although the committee is quite saddened to cancel this year’s festival, Smith noted, they are planning on other ways to celebrate the town in a different format this fall. Plans for that will be announced at a future date.


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