Troy Strawberry Festival cancellation a ‘disappointment,’ mayor says

TROY — Cancellation of the Troy Strawberry Festival for a second year due to COVID-19 was described as both difficult and a disappointment.

The festival’s volunteer board of directors announced Saturday, April 3, that it regretfully was canceling the festival scheduled June 5 and 6.

“This decision was a difficult one for all parties concerned. While the Strawberry Festival did submit a plan which provided for the COVID-19 safety guidelines and carried the support of the Miami County Health Department, the board determined that the increased regulations would be cost prohibitive to the event and the nonprofit organizations that we serve,” the festival said in a statement released by Kathi Roetter of the Troy Area Chamber of Commerce.

As an example of safety measures and costs, the festival would have had 50 percent vendor capacity or 100 vendors versus 200 with a space in between each vendor for social distancing. Additional expenses – an estimate was not available Monday – were anticipated to buy hand sanitizer, masks, thermometers, cleaning supplies to sanitize shuttle buses every hour and stanchions for social distancing, among others.

There also were concerns about whether organizations that use the festival as a major fundraiser would have enough volunteers for the festival weekend.

Mayor Robin Oda said Monday she was extremely disappointed and frustrated to lose another community event.

“This is a huge festival for our residents, for our non-profit organizations, and other businesses across the spectrum. The City of Troy has been on stand-by for weeks, ready to work with festival officials to make this happen,” Oda said.

“This news is very defeating. From the city’s perspective, we continue to process, and are looking at what alternatives are available to us,” she added.

Because the city learned of the cancellation when the community did, there hasn’t been time to look too far into possibilities, Oda said. She later added that “the Governor and Health Department continue to issue strangulating guidelines that impact our local communities across the state and our efforts towards recovery and it needs to stop.”

The festival brings in between $200,000 to $300,000 annually to local nonprofit organizations, according to festival records and past reports following festivals.

The festival’s cancellation is difficult for the community and county, said Leiann Stewart, executive director of the Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau.

“People are eager to get out and begin attending events again, but it is important for communities/organizations to be able to provide a fun, but safe environment. The large size of the Strawberry Festival makes it difficult to enforce some of the safety guidelines that must happen to keep our residents and visitors safe,” Stewart said.

“I know that Kathi Roetter, her staff and the Strawberry Festival Board and Committee will come back next year with a festival bigger and better than ever,” she added.

In the meantime, Stewart said the visitor’s bureau is hopeful that other festivals and events can be held as 2021 moves forward along with vaccinations and other safety measures. “Many events are currently being planned and marketed, and we are excited to share our county with visitors once again,” she said.

The cancellation announcement drew hundreds of comments on social media with comments ranging from support of the decision and erring on the side of safety to complaints questioning why when other events such as a food truck rally at the fairgrounds are being held.

The festival said it would look forward to the 2022 festival. “The board understands that it is vested with fiscal responsibility and their decision, while it is unfortunate, demonstrates their commitment to assuring that the festival will be a part of the fabric of Troy for years to come,” said Linda Roth, who was to have served as the 2020 festival chairwoman and then again this year. A new volunteer chair is selected for each festival.

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