“Obviously we weren’t able to do anything last year,” said Parks Director Kay Okey of Spring Lake Park. “We are generally the first festival of the season, so we were very tentative going into this and how we were going to proceed, but we think we’ve come up with a safe plan. Some events are going to be different this year. But again some events for the family to get out and enjoy.”
“This year so that we can control the crowd, monitor social distancing better, we are offering a one-time lumberjack show at 3 o’clock for an hour and a half,” said Okey. “People will come to that event, enjoy the lumberjack show, enjoy some food from the food truck and then go ahead and disperse the park.”
Organizers are concerned about keeping proper distancing when people are ‘milling about.’ That means there will be no craft and business fair this year. Also canceled is the parade.
“We usually have a parade on Thursday, but again due to social distancing and crowd control, we are not going to be able to offer that parade. That’s a big loss to the community,” said Okey.
Also no softball tournament. Bringing teams from out of state is not recommended. In its place there will be a new 5-K run, safely distanced. The car show is moving to the VFW and a drive in movie will be held at Spring Lake Park High School.
Pre-registration is requested so the number of people at an event can be limited to 250, but Okey says that could change for the better.
“Hopefully that rule will change by the time we get to June, and we won’t have to worry about the size of the crowd, but this way we have everything in place for our COVID preparation plan.”
In Blaine, planning is also moving forward for the 51st Blaine Festival.
“Based on guidelines for COVID, we have cut back on a few things, but we are still planning to move ahead with the festival,” said Blaine Festival Spokesperson Kat Smithe.
Kat Smithe says some of the planning from last year’s canceled even worked for this year. All but one of the bands booked for 2020 will be back. But they will scale back in other ways.
“There will be less craft and business vendors so they can be spaced further apart and less food vendors because we’re spacing out.”
One thing they are planning on is a parade. Smithe says they’re counting on a change in the rules to allow it.
“We have our applications up for the parade. Parade planning is in process. So we’re hoping that the guidelines change enough that the parade will go on. But we are definitely planning on it,” said Smithe.
The Blaine festival is known for drawing 10,000 people over a weekend in the past. Smithe is counting on another big crowd after last year’s cancellation.
“Once something goes away when it comes back it’s tough to get those people back in there again. So we are going forward and we are assuming we are going forward and we are assuming we will have a good turnout,” said Smithe.
The Blaine Festival is set to start June 25. Spring Lake Park’s Tower Days kicks off the season on June 10.