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Executive board announces Tuesday that given the COVID-19 pandemic, Newberg's annual rite will return in 2021

GRAPHIC FILE PHOTO - The executive board of the Old Fashioned Festival announced Tuesday that annual Newberg rite will be canceled this summer in a nod to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Newberg's annual rite of summer, the Old Fashioned Festival, has been canceled in a nod to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are sad to share that we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Newberg Old Fashioned Festival …," Brian Love, chairman of the festival's five-member executive board, said in a press release Tuesday. "This will be the first time in the history of the festival, under several different names, since its inception that the July family and community event will not take place."

The 39th annual festival was slated this year for July 23-26 and has proven to be wildly popular over the years for Newbergites and out-of-towners alike.

"This decision was not made lightly," Love said, adding that the committee engaged in multiple Zoom meetings and conference calls before rendering the decision to shutter the festival. "At the onset of the COVID-19 virus we were hopeful that the situation might resolve itself by July. The health and safety of our community, sponsors, attendees, vendors, staff and volunteers is our top priority and we have decided the risk of holding this great summertime event is too great.

"The Old Fashioned Festival is attended by thousands of people who attend all or some of the weekend's events. The last thing we would want to do is hold an event that could contribute to the spread of the virus and perhaps introduce a second wave of infections."GRAPHIC FILE PHOTO - The dozens of bands and musicians that typically grace one of several stages at the Old Fashioned Festival will have to find antoher place to perform this summer after it was announced the annual event will be canceled due to the pandemic.

After making the decision, the executive board notified chairpersons of each part of the festival, as well as the festival's sponsors and the larger festival committee.

"The feedback from our constituents has been positive and understanding," Love said, adding that that the executive committee took its lead from the actions of other communities while adhering to mandates from the state.

Festival committee members began this week notifying the event's 75 to 100 vendors of the bad news. The vendors, Love said, have responded looking for information about next year's festival, set for July 22-25, 2021, with the theme "The Best is Yet to Come!"

"We will spend the next year carefully planning on how to hold a successful event in a post-pandemic world," Love said.

He assured festival-goers that the committee didn't lose any money as a result of the festival being canceled this year.

"Any sponsor who has already paid for the 2020 festival has been notified personally and asked if they would like their money back or do they want their sponsorship money to roll over to next year's event," Love said, adding that the festival relies on sponsorships to make the event possible. "Due to COVID-19 and so many of our local businesses being closed, we really see the cancellation as the right thing to do. When businesses have been closed for approximately two months it doesn't seem right to be at their doorsteps when they are able to reopen to ask for money."

The executive committee, before reaching its decision, considered holding a smaller festival, perhaps with some social distancing guidelines put in place. The idea was deemed impractical.

"We tossed around all kinds of ideas, but nothing seemed to really align with what we know about COVID 19 and more importantly the finances that our local sponsors provide," Love said. "We wanted to ensure their money was being used wisely and to put on the kind of festival they and the Newberg community has grown to expect and appreciate. … Another thing to consider is that the Newberg Old Fashioned Festival is not just a Yamhill County event. We have people from all over the state come to participate in the parade, the vendors in the park, fireworks, etc."

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