The Apple Harvest Festival has been canceled for 2020, another annual benchmark event lost to the coronavirus pandemic and fears over the risks associated with large gatherings.
The decision was made by the Downtown Ithaca Alliance yesterday. In addition to the Apple Harvest Festival, other events that the DIA has officially canceled as of Tuesday are: Fashion Week, Welcome Student Weekend, Halloween on the Commons, Santa’s Arrival and Chowder Cook-Off. Additionally, the annual winter holiday events will be limited to a winter lights display.
All concerts coordinated by the Downtown Ithaca Alliance for the rest of the year will be held online, including the remaining installments of the Summer Concert Series. So far, those performances have been being recorded beforehand from the State Theatre and streamed online. The DIA said they would be having a Bite of Ithaca promotion at some point, as well as a virtual/walk-around Downtown Gallery Night.
The loss of the Apple Harvest Festival is another in a long line of public event cancellations due to the coronavirus outbreak. Notably, Ithaca Festival and GrassRoots were both canceled (though GrassRoots did take place virtually), and Finger Lakes Thaw has at least been moved to autumn.
The festival had been planned for Oct. 2-4, 2020. It's annually a hub of local apple lovers and vendors, including a variety of beloved apple-based products like apple cider and apple donuts.
“Due to uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 pandemic and limitations on social gatherings, we’re forced to cancel these massive crowd-drawing events," DIA Special Events Director Scott Rougeau said. "The Apple Harvest Festival alone attracts tens of thousands of people to Downtown and we simply can’t host such mass gatherings in our community at this time. We did not come to this decision lightly and we understand the impact of such a decision on the local economy, but we have to prioritize the safety and health of our community, vendors, staff, and volunteers."
Rougeau said that the DIA had hoped to have live events in the coming months but that the risks from COVID-19 are too much to avoid.
“We will return to live events when it is safe and responsible to do so," said Gary Ferguson, Executive Director of the DIA. "In the meantime, we will focus our efforts on recovery from the pandemic, assisting our existing businesses and attracting new entrepreneurs to our downtown.” says Gary Ferguson, the DIA’s executive director.