CHESHIRE — The spring and summer months are typically a time for residents to enjoy outdoor festivals, live music events, and other activities.
When the COVID-19 crisis began in Connecticut in March, many likely didn’t expect that those plans could all be put in jeopardy. However, as time has gone on many events planned for the spring and summer have been canceled.
The First Congregational Church of Cheshire’s annual Strawberry Festival is the latest.
“It took us a really long time to come to this decision, but we have ultimately decided to cancel our Strawberry Festival,” said Pastor James Campbell. “It would have been our 83rd year in a row of having the festival, and it’s the first time we’ve ever had to cancel it.”
The festival, which is usually held the first weekend in June on the church green, is also a fundraiser. The outdoor summer celebration usually features live music, local vendors, crafts and homemade strawberry shortcake.
“… We had so many items to consider,” explained Campbell. “We had to consider the ethics of having all these people gathering during a pandemic. When it’s nice weather out, we can have anywhere between 1,000 to 1,500 people out there on the green and they need to be safe. We also have to think about how to purchase enough hamburgers while slaughterhouses are closing down, too. We didn’t want to order these things and then decide we had to cancel either.”
Campbell said the church also had to consider vendors.
“Vendors paid already, but now that their businesses are struggling we wanted to be able to give that money back to them,” he said.
Campbell said the congregation is devastated the June festival is canceled, but hopeful they may be able to revive it later in the summer or in the fall.
“We might not be able to do strawberries, but I know other congregations sometimes do apple festivals or something like that, but we haven’t settled on anything yet,” he said.