Old Town

Old Town cancels annual Riverfest

OLD TOWN, Maine — The city of Old Town’s annual Riverfest won’t happen this year.

“After careful consideration, the Riverfest 2020 committee has decided that we will have to cancel Riverfest for the 2020 season,” the city posted via Facebook Monday afternoon. 

Every year, Riverfest attracts thousands of people from the surrounding Old Town-Orono areas for a weekend celebration in September featuring local vendors, a host of community activities, as well as live music and a parade. 

“Riverfest exists due to the generosity of volunteers and the business community. We can’t thank you all enough!’ the city said in its announcement. 

Last year’s Riverfest went on despite a devastating fire that ripped through downtown just days earlier. 

But this year poses new challenges with the coronavirus pandemic still looming overhead. Both local and statewide festivals around Maine have been forced to cancel their summer plans as hope for a swift end to the pandemic dwindles. 

The city said it wouldn’t be prudent to gather thousands of people downtown or ask businesses — which are already struggling to sustain themselves during the pandemic — to support the events, city assessor Travis Roy said. 

“We’ve been watching events around us cancel one after another,” he said. 

Carol May, a longtime city councilor who is on the volunteer Riverfest committee, said the group started planning this year’s festival back in January and held off canceling in case things started looking up. 

“It’s a shame and we hate to do it [canceling the festival],” May said. 

This year would’ve marked the 25th anniversary of the Riverfest, too, she said. “The whole committee feels so badly … we just feel like we can’t do it.” 

“Thank you all, for all that you have done, and we wish you all the best as we look forward to coming back stronger for Riverfest 2021,” the city said on their Facebook post. 

Carol May also works as a Customer Service Representative for the Penobscot Times.

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