Amid numerous event cancellations, the COVID-19 pandemic claimed another victim: Cleveland’s annual Cherry Creek Days.
The summer festival is one of Cleveland’s biggest celebrations dating back to 1978 after being organized by local churches in the community. Since then, Cherry Creek Days has attracted hundreds of visitors each year with events like the classic car roll-in, the 5k fun run, fireworks, street dance and parade. But on Monday, due to concerns over public health, the Cleveland City Council voted unanimously to cancel Cherry Creek Days in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
The City Council had discussed canceling the festival last month when city-sponsored garage sales were canceled. City Administrator Dan Evans told the council that planning for the festival required the city of Cleveland to contract entertainment well in advance, something the council and city staff wasn’t comfortable with, due to the unpredictability of the pandemic.
The council moved to postpone the event to an unknown date, but after reassessing the situation a month later, the city determined that holding the event would not be feasible.
“The event takes a lot of planning and coordination to put it on, but we were already in May and it was going to be in six weeks,” said Evans. “We kind of had everybody on limbo saying we might go through with it, we might not … We’re a little too close to the event and with the stay at home order it was just in the interest of the safety of everyone in the community to cancel it.”
One of the central draws of Cherry Creek Days has been the parade which featured both local businesses and organizations and those from the surrounding organizations. The parade would be led by color guard from Cleveland, Elysian and Le Center followed by the grand marshal, and the Cleveland Public School Homecoming King and Queen would ride in the same parade as Le Center St. Patrick’s Day royalty and the Scott-Le Sueur County Dairy princesses.
Cherry Creek Days is also an important time for Cleveland’s Volunteer Fire Department. The department’s Pork Chop Feed and silent auction goes back about as far as the event itself and has been a significant driver of revenue for the fire station. Another driver of the Fire Department’s income, gambling at the Cleveland Municipal Liquor Store, has been lost because of the current ban on in-house dining.
“[Cherry Creek Days] is also a time when people like to bring their donations to the Fire Department,” said Cleveland Fire Chief Brady Hahn. “Plus it brings people to town that do go and gamble with raffle tickets down at the bar, so financially it does cut into us a little bit.”
Nevertheless, the Fire Department has had some successes with fundraising and has given residents a taste of their cooking. On April 18, volunteer firefighters cooked up 500 pork chops for curbside pickup and delivery and sold all but 40. Hahn said that Cleveland Fire could have more events like this in the future and were planning a pulled pork feed to support the American Legion, which has also seen declining revenues amidst the coronavirus.
“It was a big success,” said Hahn. “People turned out in droves in support of us.”