announced August 29, 2021
After much consideration and with the safety of the community in mind, the Burke Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has decided to cancel the 2021 Burke Fall Festival which was scheduled to take place on September 25th in East Burke Village, VT.
“The Chamber Board deliberated on this for a while and it was not an easy decision to come to,” said Chamber President, Todd Vendituoli. “We know a lot of people will be disappointed, as are we, but ultimately, it came down to the old saying, ‘it’s better to be safe, than sorry.’ We thank the community in advance for understanding the decision. We are very grateful to the many businesses that sponsor the event, our volunteers and supporters who have made this such a beloved community event.”
Many factors led to the decision including the most current data regarding growing numbers of COVID cases in the area, possible upward trending of those numbers and the highly transmissible nature of the Delta Variant. Although Vermont proudly leads the nation in vaccinations, one of our most vulnerable populations, that of young children, has yet to be vaccinated. Estimated attendance at the festival is approximately 1,500 people including many families with young children. It was hoped that the festival could happen this year and planning for the festival actually began in June. However, at this point in time, it was determined that the festival could not happen safely and in particular, the Chamber Board does not want to risk the wellbeing of children.
The Chamber Board also consulted with many of our long-time volunteers and event organizers to get their input on whether or not to go ahead with the festival. They provided the board with feedback received from vendors, parade participants, volunteers and others involved with the event. The number of interested vendors and parade participants is down significantly this year, in part due to ongoing concerns about COVID.
The Burke Fall Festival is hosted and organized by the Burke Area Chamber of Commerce. It is a fundraiser that provides a significant amount of income for the Chamber. The Burke Chamber is a non-profit, 501c6 organization with an all-volunteer Board of Directors and one, paid, part-time administrator. Festival income along with membership dues are used to provide services to chamber members, encourage economic development in the communities served, promote these communities as places to live and visit, as well as host other low or non--income producing events such as the Annual Santa Visit to West Burke, the Christmas Tree contest and display in East Burke, the Strawberry Festival and other community gatherings.
A great deal of planning and expense goes into making the Burke Fall Festival one of the most popular and successful events in the area. Almost all the planning for the event is done by volunteers and there are a key group of people who have been preparing since June. In addition, many other organizations, churches, schools and other non-profit groups fundraise at the event. Craft Fair vendors have also been ordering supplies, creating products and prepping for the festival. Out of respect for the time all these people have already spent getting ready and in order to prevent any more time given up and money spent on non-refundable expenses, it was necessary to make a final decision about the festival now, rather than wait until closer to the date of the event.
Although at this time, the State of Vermont and the Governor’s office have not issued an emergency declaration or imposed restrictions on outdoor gatherings, the Board recognizes the ever-changing (and understandably so) pandemic response. If that response changes in the next month and there are restrictions placed on events that force a cancellation very close to September 25th, it would mean a financial loss for the Chamber and others as well as the loss of even more time spent preparing for the event.
It is for this combination of factors and out of an abundance of caution that it was decided to cancel the festival for this year. All event sponsors and vendors will be notified and offered full refunds. The 2022 Festival is scheduled for September 24th (it’s always the last Saturday in September) and it is expected that it can return bigger and better than ever.
“Meanwhile, there are many other wonderful events scheduled to happen in the Northeast Kingdom and other Vermont communities,” said Vendituoli. “Surely, some of these event organizers are wrestling with similar concerns and the Burke Chamber offers best wishes and support for whatever decision they choose to be best for their event(s) and community. We encourage Vermonters and visitors to support the events still on the calendar in whatever way feels comfortable whether by sponsoring, volunteering and/or attending.”
Questions about the Burke Fall Festival can be addressed to the Burke Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors at 802-626-4124 or email@example.com.
Board of Directors:
Todd Vendituoli, President
Chris Andrews, Vice President
Michelle Cleveland, Secretary
Linda Lotti, Treasurer
Jim O’Reilly, Board Member
Tammy Wagner, Board Member