Chester’s iconic Fall Festival cancelled

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2020 Telegraph Publishing, LLC

Traditional basketmaker Jeffrey Gale of Cooperstown, NY, demonstrating at a past Fall Festival.  Telegraph file photo

Just before the end of the Chester Select Board meeting on Wednesday night, board member Leigh Dakin announced that the Chester Rotary and the Fall Festival Committee have decided that they will be unable to hold the 46th edition of the iconic festival scheduled for Sept. 19 and 20.

According to festival committee member Lyza Gardner, the decision was arrived at a little over a week ago. Gardner spoke with The Telegraph on Thursday.

“The decision was made on a couple of fronts,” said Gardner. “One was Gov. Scott’s cancellation of all fairs and festivals ‘until further notice.’ ” Scott’s amendment used that term but then Scott later said “this summer.” The festival falls on the crux of the the two seasons with the first day of autumn falling on Sept. 22.

“The other piece of the puzzle was around logistics and our ability as a small group to be able to plan,” said Gardner. “It was difficult for us to see how many vendors we would be able to support with spacing between vendors, crowds browsing in booths and whether we would be able to have food vendors with people congregating around them.”

Gardner said the group also had to wrestle with the question of “whether it would be appropriate by September to encourage people to come from out of state – if that was safe and wise and fair to our vendors, businesses on the Green and the town’s people in general.”

In addition to those concerns, the organizers were responding to vendors who were concerned about the event and were already pulling out of other events.

“In the end, we were worried that we would not be able to put on an event that was satisfactory to vendors and those attending it,” said Gardner.

The committee is giving refunds or returning un-cashed checks for the vendor booth fee and offering the option for the fee to be given as a donation to the Chester-Andover Family Center.

The annual festival is a major fundraiser for the charitable projects of the Chester Rotary Club including college scholarships.


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