The city of Centralia’s Fourth of July festival, Summerfest, has been canceled for the second year in a row — but the city is hoping to host a “low-calorie version” of the beloved local event to keep the tradition going.
“We’re going to want to do something, but we’re going to be safe about it,” City Manager Rob Hill said at an April 13 Centralia City Council meeting. City staff don’t know what “Summerfest-lite,” as Hill coined it, is going to look like yet, but staff have discussed taking some of Summerfest’s traditional events and finding a way to hold them in accordance with COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.
Last year’s Summerfest was “completely derailed” due to COVID-19, Hill said, for the same reason that city staff are uncomfortable committing to a traditional Summerfest this year: location.
“Summerfest is centered around three different venues that basically consist of crowding a lot of people into a small area, which is completely counter to everything that we’re being told to do and that we are doing to prevent COVID,” Hill said.
The only element of Summerfest to survive last year was the fireworks show. City staff waited to see if the pandemic would end before they had to make a decision regarding 2021’s event, but with the Fourth of July less than three months away and COVID-19 cases on the rise, Hill said he had to make a “judgement call.”
He talked it out with staff, and they ultimately came to the same conclusion: they weren’t comfortable holding the event.
“I don’t see at this point how we can do that and still stay safe,” he said. “I don’t see it happening.”
Hill and city staff are still working to put together a plan for a version of Summerfest that the city can hold safely, and he will update the community as those plans are finalized.
In the meantime, Mayor Pro-Tem Max Vogt encourages Centralia residents to consider backyard celebrations with friends and family this year.
“I know it’s a tough time to happen, but we can see this as a positive thing, It can be a much more community event, get together with people we know in a safe way, enjoy Fourth of July, and stay tuned for future developments in the years to come,” Vogt said. “But I think we can look at this as a positive and as a different kind of down-home Thanksgiving, more old fashioned and get together with friends and family and enjoy yourself.”
Summerfest isn’t the only popular local event facing cancellation due to the ongoing pandemic: on the eastern side of the county, the city of Mossyrock has canceled its annual Blueberry Festival for the second year in a row.
“The shutdown has made the logistics and planning of the event impossible,” said the Mossyrock Area Action League, which plans Mossyrock’s festivals, in an official statement on their website. “Please check back for updates as we look forward to a fantastic festival in 2022. And better times ahead.”
Even though there will be no Blueberry Festival this year, the city of Mossyrock has confirmed that it is in the process of planning events for the Fourth of July weekend. Marcus T. Trim, a veteran’s advocate from Shelton, is reportedly working with city officials and other unspecified interest groups to organize the event. The July 3 and July 4 celebration will be dedicated to first responders. So far, organizers have confirmed that there will be music and entertainment on both days and a patriotic parade on Saturday, and that Lewis County Fire Districts 3 and 4 will put on a fireworks show. Updates and details will be posted online at https://mossyrockfestivals.org/.
See more on the Mossyrock Fourth of July event in Tuesday’s edition of The Chronicle.