While life may be slowly showing signs of a return to some pre-pandemic norms locally and nationally as vaccinations rise and new positive cases remain steady, the changes have not come in time for organizers to safely plan and host several beloved area events.
The Honor America Days in Rome, the Woodsmen’s Field Days in Boonville, and the Remsen Barn Festival of the Arts will all be canceled this summer, organizers say, citing immense logistical issues to ensure the safety of spectators, volunteers, exhibitors and participants. Organizers are already turning their sights toward 2022, optimistically hoping that current trends hold and guidelines and restrictions will be eased.
The main problem with trying to move forward with Honor America Days for this year, according to William Guglielmo, president of the Rome Area Chamber of Commerce, is that New York isn’t approving any mass gatherings, particularly for events as large as the traditional concert and fireworks on the lawn of the Fort Stanwix National Monument. The signature Symphoria concert typically draws tens of thousands of people to the great lawn at Fort Stanwix while the pre-show parade runs down packed streets from Rome Health on North James Street to its terminus on West Dominick Street near Fort Stanwix on the last weekend of July.
“New York state is currently not approving mass gathering permits, due to pandemic-related restrictions, for activities attended by more than 500 people,” Guglielmo said. “Therefore, and regretfully, the parade, symphony concert and fireworks are not scheduled to be held this summer.”
“The Honor America Days Parade easily attracts 10,000 people,” he continued. “The Symphoria Symphony Orchestra Concert and Fireworks, held later that evening each year on the last Saturday in July, are enjoyed by twice as many people who look forward to this annual program.”
Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo said Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Monday that event venues, which would include the Honor America Days parade and symphony concert, could maintain a 500-person limit. If the congregate size exceeds 500 people outdoors, then all attendees over the age of 4 must present proof of full vaccination status or recent negative COVID-19 test and the required social distancing of 6 feet between patrons must be maintained, she said.
“Unfortunately, with these restrictions in place it would be impossible for the Honor America Days Committee to verify vaccination or COVID-19 test results for thousands of spectators plus enforce 6-foot physical distancing,” said Izzo. “We will therefore have to forego Honor America Days this summer and look forward to 2022. I know this is not what the community had been hoping for, but we must comply with New York restrictions to control the public health emergency.”
The Woodsmen’s Field Days in Boonville, that honors the forestry industry, welcomes people from all over New York state — and the world and is another key community signature event that will be canceled for 2021.
“The decision to cancel the 2021 NYS Woodsmen’s Field Days was not an easy one,” said Executive Coordinator Phyllis White in a statement on the event website. “Our event is unique in that we are a trade show and sporting event all rolled into one. Our participants come from more than 11 states, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. There are many issues that affect us with regards to the NYS COVID/Pandemic regulations.”
White continued, saying the number one concern of the event organizers is the safety of spectators, volunteer staff, exhibitors, and competitors. “Our organization remains optimistic that 2022 will be the year the event will operate,” she said.
The Remsen Barn Festival of The Arts will also not hold a physical event this year. In 2020 when the pandemic first hit, Remsen Barn Festival organizers decided to cancel the traditional event and instead hold a virtual event, letting patrons of the festival conduct online shopping.
“With concern and consideration for our residents, participants, and guests, [the committee] has decided to pause the Barn Festival of the Arts until 2022,” a message on the Remsen Barn Festival website read. “Additional information will be communicated to vendors by mail in the coming weeks.”