CARIBOU, Maine — Thursdays on Sweden, a bi-weekly summer street festival involving live music, family activities and dozens of vendors, is canceled for 2020.
Caribou Marketing and Events Coordinator Christina Kane-Gibson had been holding out hope for a potential late summer festival in the event could still be safely held.
On Aug. 20, Kane-Gibson said the guidelines regarding large gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic have not changed and the event will be moved to 2021.
She said that, as of the last meeting with state officials, the city wouldn’t logistically be able to hold the event with current restrictions while also ensuring the safety of guests.
“We have meetings and map things out and come up with several different scenarios,” she said. “We don’t just cancel events. We really sit down and talk about how we can do it safely. If factors are just too daunting or overwhelming to hold an event, we have to cancel it. It’s not a decision that’s made lightly. That’s why we held out hope all summer. We didn’t blanket cancel any events because everything is constantly evolving. We know the community needs these events — not just for the quality of life but to keep in touch with people — to get out there and have something to do.”
She said she’s working with city officials on fall events, specifically the city’s October Arts & Crafts Fair, which is known for being the largest event of its kind in Aroostook County.
Coming up with a way to hold this event while still adhering to social distancing guidelines and ensuring the safety of guests has been a daunting task, she said. Even with masks and social distancing, Kane-Gibson said it would be difficult to regulate the customer and vendor interactions, which could involve trying on a mitten or a piece of jewelry, smelling a candle, or sampling fudge.
“You have a lot of exposure to all of these products, and we’re trying to figure out how all of these different factors will work together,” she said.
Kane-Gibson said she knows many of the arts and crafts fair vendors personally, and that many of them rely on these events as part of their income, which also factors into the city’s decisions.
“All of that comes up when we’re trying to plan events; it’s definitely something we think about,” she said. “We know our vendors and we know how much the arts and crafts fair means to them, and we’re trying to come up with a ‘Plan B’ on that one.”
She said she hopes to make an announcement concerning the future of the crafts fair by early September.
“The community has been really understanding,” she said. “I think everybody is ready for 2020 to just end and to move onto 2021. We’re already planning events for next year and trying to make everything bigger and better. I want to thank the community for being patient and understanding, and knowing that everyone is trying to do their best.”