Thunder Bay – LIVING – The Friends of Chippewa Park announced today that the 100th Anniversary Five Day Family Festival they were planning for the Civic Holiday weekend this summer has been postponed until 2022.
In making the announcement President Lorraine Lortie indicated that the organization felt “it would be irresponsible to hold an outdoor festival that could attract as many as 10,000 people when so many may still be susceptible to catching COVID-19. As a major focus of the park and the Festival are families and it is doubtful that children will be fully vaccinated in time, we had no choice but to postpone for a year. We don’t want to exclude anyone from enjoying the park and the festival and we certainly do not want to be the cause of further spread” she said.
Cathy Sawicki, Co-Chair of the 100th Anniversary Committee noted that the park itself will not be fully operational this summer and “it doesn’t make sense to hold a festival when the full features of Chippewa are not on display and available for celebrants”. She noted that the amusement rides will not operate again this year because of COVID-19 restrictions, that all but two of the field bookings have been cancelled and there are no activities in the pavilion this summer including Melodrama, showers and weddings. TFOCP also made the decision to not host the Sunday in the Park Concert Season and the Tuesday Night Jam sessions this year.
“The continued closure of the Canada-USA Border along with travel restrictions within Canada with no indication of when those restrictions will be lifted will severely limit our ability to attract visitors to the park and festival” said Co-Chair Linda Lafontaine. “We wanted to be in a position to re-introduce the City, the park and its features to a broad tourist audience who lives within one days drive, and currently we are unable to barely go beyond the Thunder Bay District.”
The park and its facilities have been booked for July 28 to Aug 1, 2022. Fund raising, including the current Catch the Chippewa Ace Lottery will continue over the next 15 months with all proceeds going towards financing the Family Festival.
Discussions are underway with all confirmed funders regarding permission to transfer the funds to next year. Work also will continue on the restoration of the Carousel said Lortie, we anticipate it being completed next spring and if all goes well by the summer, we will have a building to protect and secure it.
“We were all looking forward to sharing Chippewa Park’s Centennial” said Lortie “We will just have to wait until next summer to celebrate 100+1 and hopefully a return to a COVID free environment” she concluded. “The extra time will enable us to make the festival even better!”
The Friends of Chippewa Park are still planning on some form of commemorative event for July 15, the actual anniversary of the park being declared open in 1921. Details are still to be worked out.