Delta variant forces some Vermont festivals, events to change course

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 5:14 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - August is prime time for many festivals, fairs and community events, but the delta variant is throwing a wrench into some of those plans.

“When we looked at it last year, it was pretty clear we didn’t have a choice. Things were shut down. This year we really were concerned, quite concerned. Our race vendor felt very strongly that with proper protocols in place we could make it a really safe event. Folks are dying to get outside,” said Scott Gaines, a coordinator for the Vergennes Day Race.

They had to cancel the Vergennes Day Race last year due to COVID, but after a year of learning creative ways to be safe, they’re back up and running.

“The school on the sidewalk actually has little pencils where folks would stand and they’re all six feet apart. So that’s what we’re gonna use to try to keep folks apart, and we’re all gonna be wearing masks,” Gaines said.

Another way they hope to keep participants safe is by registering online so on race day, there isn’t a congested registration booth.

Another event that is able to come back to life in the midst of the pandemic is the World Soccer Festival.

“Been really popular over the years so we’re excited to get back to it,” said Mark Isselhardt, the organizer of the World Soccer Festival.

Last year, they canceled the soccer festival out of an abundance of caution, but they feel comfortable going forward this year.

“We have been in touch with the Vermont Department of Health. They are confident in the safety of an outdoor event like this,” Isselhardt said.

Unfortunately, some other events simply can’t happen, like the Burlington Waterfront’s Oktoberfest.

“I think everybody is very optimistic about this year’s Oktoberfest happening. I think obviously finding out today that it was canceled is a disappointment, but I think it makes sense given the conditions right now,” said Matt Wilson, who co-owns the Zero Gravity Brewery in Burlington.

Wilson was surprised by Oktoberfest was canceled so close to the event date but he understands why.

“With a lot of reusing glassware and potentially unsanitary or less than ideal sanitary conditions,” Wilson said. “As much as, you know, we all want to get together and celebrate, there is a time and place and we’ll all do that again I’m sure.”

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