SOUTHINGTON — The Town Council voted unanimously Monday night to cancel this year’s Apple Harvest festival over health concerns and uncertainty over whether the state would allow large gatherings this fall.
Jim Morelli, a Republican councilor, suggested the Apple Harvest festival parade continue despite the cancellation.
Town recreation director Dave Lapreay said Southington isn’t alone in forgoing signature town events. He recommended canceling.
“Obviously we’re dealing with a pandemic. A lot of fairs, festivals around the state have been cancelled already,” he said.
Before voting, councilors discussed whether to attempt a scaled-down festival.
Michel DelSanto, a Republican councilor, said he wouldn’t want to hold an event that left people disappointed.
“The last thing I want is the shell of the Apple Harvest festival,” he said.
Republican Tom Lombardi, council vice chairman and festival committee member, said vendors have to plan and buy for the festival months in advance. There’s no guarantee that large gatherings will be allowed in September under Gov. Ned Lamont’s executive orders.
“I don’t think it’s worth it for us to push the envelope and plan this festival and have vendors lose money,” Lombardi said.
William Dziedzic, a Republican councilor, said the town recently celebrated the festival’s 50th anniversary. While he voted for the cancellation, he wasn’t happy.
“We will be judged, 10, 15, 25, 50 years from now for this decision,” he said.
Victoria Triano, council chairwoman and a Republican, told councilors to bring ideas for alternative events to Lapreay.
Reopening resolution passed in partisan vote
During Monday’s meeting, the council also voted along party lines to pass a resolution that asks Lamont to allow immediate reopening of Southington businesses and organizations. The council’s six Republicans passed the resolution despite the opposition of the three Democrats.
Republicans said local businesses are hurting and should be able to reopen immediately if they can do so and still abide by state guidelines. Councilors who supported the resolution said it was a message to the governor and local businesses.
Democratic councilors said the state is headed towards reopening and that the town should abide by the governor’s timetable.
“A lot of thought went into it. It’s based on scientific facts and data,” said Chris Palmieri, Democratic minority leader. “I do see the light at the end of the tunnel.”