If you were planning to hit one of the biggest street festivals in the country this weekend you’ll have to make new plans. The Fremont Festival of the Arts, which was supposed to happen on September 25th and 26th, was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Organizers first scheduled the festival for August, and they tried delaying the event until the last weekend in September hoping that the spreading Delta variant would subside. But it hasn’t quite.
“We thought the pandemic might be a little bit further in our rearview mirror. We had to make the decision. It was painful, but we erred on the side of caution,” Fremont Chamber of Commerce CEO Cindy Bonior told Mercury News. “We know a lot of people were looking forward to it but we feel we made the right decision. We had to put the community first.”
This is the second straight year that the event was delayed over a month and then ultimately canceled.
The Fremont Festival of the Arts is known to many as the largest free street festival in the west. In past years, more than 300,000 visitors have shown up to walk around to the dozens of vendor booths. There’s also tons of food and alcohol along with live music. One of the biggest challenges organizers face is that the festival is free and anyone can just walk right in from several different streets. Festival organizers were not prepared financially to get all the safety supplies they would have needed to keep everyone safe.
“We have no point of entrance, we have no point of exit, we can’t control the number of people, we couldn’t essentially be the mask police, we couldn’t check for vaccinations. There were just too many unknowns to make it safe and to ensure success under the current conditions that we’re facing,” Bonior told Mercury News.
Organizers let vendors know a few weeks ago when Delta variant cases were increasing that the festival was not going to happen. The Fremont Chamber of Commerce puts on the event every year. The agency is now trying to figure out how to plan for next year’s event which is scheduled for August 6th and 7th. “We’re looking forward to rebuilding it, and coming back with something even better in the future,” Bonior told Mercury News.