The summer festival season is again being shaped by the pandemic, as organizers of some community events have been forced to cancel them, while others say they are working to hold events safely.
Organizers of the Historic Bellefonte Cruise said they are still planning for the event to occur in 2021 with safety measures in place, after sitting out 2020. People’s Choice Festival of Pennsylvania can be added to the list of cancelled events, as organizers announced on March 30 that the event will not take place this July. The decision, they wrote in a Facebook post, was out of their hands.
The Historic Bellefonte Cruise is scheduled for June 18-19, and Cruise Committee Chairman Pat McCool said he has been working with Bellefonte Borough to get approval for the event. McCool recently met with the borough safety committee, which he said is going to recommend that the festival be permitted downtown. The Borough Council will vote on the measure at an upcoming meeting.
Cruise organizers are scrambling to get everything done after delays caused by the pandemic.
McCool said the event will be spread out further to allow for social distancing, and organizers will be providing masks that will be available for those who do not have them.
Despite these changes, McCool said plans for the event are “pretty much the same as normal,” with the same number of vendors and live performances.
The popular event has been a Bellefonte tradition since 1988 and features a car show, Friday night Sock Hop, music, food and a marketplace. McCool said he is excited that the event may be able to draw some big names to perform on the stage at the Diamond.
“There is a good possibility that we will have some big-ticket entertainment this year,” said McCool.
The event will provide a boon for local businesses after a difficult year, he added.
“The town really needs it economically. It is typically the biggest weekend of the year in Bellefonte and after missing last year and everything else that has happened this past year, it should be good for everyone,” said McCool.
People’s Choice has been held annually since 1993 on the grounds of the Pennsylvania Military Museum in Boalsburg. The site administrator for the stateowned museum informed organizers that COVID-19 guidelines for the property do not permit special events, summer camps, or school groups until the fall.
“In other words, since the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania owns and operates the venue, we have no choice but to abide by their rules,” festival organizers wrote.
The festival will return in 2022, organizers said. Over the next month, they will prepare a mailing to all artists, food vendors and wineries that will include their booth fee and a 2022 application.
People’s Choice Festival had been scheduled for July 8-11. The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts and Philipsburg’s Heritage Days, which traditionally take place during the same week every July, announced on March 18 that they have canceled in-person events for 2021.
Around the county, event organizers are grappling with continued COVID restrictions.
Tussey Mountain is taking a “waitand-see” approach when it comes to events at the amphitheater, such as the popular WingFest.
“There have been no determinations made yet as for summer events. We are hopeful about something happening this year, and if they do, we will certainly get the word out on them. But right now, we are still very much in a ‘wait and see and prepare for everything’ phase,” said Marketing Director Aaron Weyman in an email to The Gazette.