There will be no maple stirs on Chardon Square this April.

As a result of state mandates in the midst of the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, the Geauga County Maple Festival board decided to cancel the sappy celebration after a closed meeting Monday evening.

On March 12, Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton ordered that there be no mass gatherings of 100 or more people, including parades, festivals and fairs. As of Monday, this number was reduced to 50 people to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations. President Donald Trump recommended even fewer at 10 people.

Dr. Acton had previously mentioned in press conferences at the Statehouse that the pandemic is expected to peak around late April or early May, and the Maple Festival is always scheduled for the last full weekend in April. This year the festival was scheduled for April 23-26.

Annie Royle, Maple Fest board president and head of publicity, said that the matter was out of the board’s hands.

“It was a very difficult situation, and really we didn’t have a choice in the matter because of what the CDC had said,” she said in an interview with the Times. “We were hoping to postpone the event, but with the nature of our vendors and the nature of summer coming up, everybody is already booked. There was maybe a two-week window, and it was just not going to happen.

“I wanted to wait to make the decision because I had hoped that we would continue to have it, but just in light of everything, it was just not going to be a possibility,” she said, noting that the event can bring in about 40,000 visitors.

While this certainly isn’t the first time the festival has seen a setback with snow storms and even a collapsed tent, it’s the first cancellation in a long time.

“We have not had to cancel the Maple Festival since World War II, so that’s a huge deal,” she said. “We didn’t have it for a few years during the war, then it was canceled in 1946 because of syrup production.”

She said that as hard of a decision it was to cancel the festival this year, “we want people to be healthy and be able to enjoy [the festival] next year.”

Ms. Royle said the Maple Contest is still expected to go on, however, with the winners tentatively set to be auctioned off online.

“We still want to be able to do that because the maple producers worked so hard this season to make their syrup,” she said.

She said the syrup that does not win the contest will be used as prizes for the summer golf outing, which she said the festival board is still hoping to hold. The outing is set for July 19 at Pleasant Hill Golf Course in Chardon.

Jennifer Freeman, past-president of the festival who coordinates the maple judging, confirmed this and said that because judging is done with less than 10 people, it should still fit the format of the White House recommendations.

“The whole Maple Festival is in celebration of maple,” Ms. Freeman said. “We still had a maple season this year, why not celebrate it and bring some amount of normalcy?”

Maple Festival canceled due to coronavirus state mandatesBy SAMANTHA COTTRILLThere will be no maple stirs on Chardon Square this April.As a result of state mandates in the midst of the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, the Geauga County Maple Festival board decided to cancel the sappy celebration after a closed meeting Monday evening.On March 12, Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton ordered that there be no mass gatherings of 100 or more people, including parades, festivals and fairs. As of Monday, this number was reduced to 50 people to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations. President Donald Trump recommended even fewer at 10 people.Dr. Acton had previously mentioned in press conferences at the Statehouse that the pandemic is expected to peak around late April or early May, and the Maple Festival is always scheduled for the last full weekend in April. This year the festival was scheduled for April 23-26.Annie Royle, Maple Fest board president and head of publicity, said that the matter was out of the board’s hands.“It was a very difficult situation, and really we didn’t have a choice in the matter because of what the CDC had said,” she said in an interview with the Times. “We were hoping to postpone the event, but with the nature of our vendors and the nature of summer coming up, everybody is already booked. There was maybe a two-week window, and it was just not going to happen.“I wanted to wait to make the decision because I had hoped that we would continue to have it, but just in light of everything, it was just not going to be a possibility,” she said, noting that the event can bring in about 40,000 visitors.While this certainly isn’t the first time the festival has seen a setback with snow storms and even a collapsed tent, it’s the first cancellation in a long time.“We have not had to cancel the Maple Festival since World War II, so that’s a huge deal,” she said. “We didn’t have it for a few years during the war, then it was canceled in 1946 because of syrup production.”She said that as hard of a decision it was to cancel the festival this year, “we want people to be healthy and be able to enjoy [the festival] next year.”Ms. Royle said the Maple Contest is still expected to go on, however, with the winners tentatively set to be auctioned off online.“We still want to be able to do that because the maple producers worked so hard this season to make their syrup,” she said.She said the syrup that does not win the contest will be used as prizes for the summer golf outing, which she said the festival board is still hoping to hold. The outing is set for July 19 at Pleasant Hill Golf Course in Chardon.Jennifer Freeman, past-president of the festival who coordinates the maple judging, confirmed this and said that because judging is done with less than 10 people, it should still fit the format of the White House recommendations.“The whole Maple Festival is in celebration of maple,” Ms. Freeman said. “We still had a maple season this year, why not celebrate it and bring some amount of normalcy?”

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