ORION — Orion Fall Fest has been canceled for Labor Day weekend because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Fall Fest committee said Thursday in a news release it made the right choice based on current circumstances.
The popular festival features a parade, Miss Main Street pageant, a car show, a carnival, arts and crafts, a pork chop dinner, a pie contest and auction, a street dance, free entertainment and much more. The goal has been to provide an opportunity to finish the summer and celebrate the coming of the fall season, according to the committee. Friendships have been celebrated and class reunions have brought people from all over together.
Organizers said they wanted to be safe, to remain healthy and to contain the spread of the virus so the community could move forward with fewer opportunities for its spread.
They also noted concern for the safety of the many volunteers and vendors affiliated with the fest. Vendors who have pre-paid to participate in the 2020 event will be contacted by a festival representative.
For many years, the Fall Fest committee has donated to individuals and organizations. Individuals include those affected by medical conditions that insurance didn't cover such as a child with bad teeth whose family couldn't afford a dentist, or a home where someone was on oxygen and couldn't be without electricity. The committee has also donated to fire and ambulance, parks and playgrounds.
One committee member said in his opinion the Fall Fest committee would still be able to make annual donations to individuals and organizations, even with no revenue coming in this year. The Fall Fest has donated well over $800,000, back to the date records were found, with about 10 to 15 active years before that that records can't be located.
Among beneficiaries of Orion Fall Festival funds are Orion area residents having trouble with necessities during the pandemic. Individuals may go to the festival's Facebook page for more information.
The plan is to come back strong with the 48th annual festival in 2021. The committee stated it looked forward to getting the community together at that time.
Meanwhile, another Henry County event scheduled for Labor Day weekend, the 67th annual Kewanee Hog Days, is still on for the time being. However, organizers note an Aug. 10 “do or die” date depending on whether the state moves to Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois plan. Phase 5 is said to include a highly effective treatment for COVID-19 or a vaccine, or no new cases for a sustained period of time.