CHESTER, Vt. – Not only people, businesses, schools, libraries, theater, churches, and any organizations that regularly gather as groups been victims of the current Covid-19 pandemic, but events have fallen victim to these challenging times as well.
The Chester Fall Festival, which annually fills every inch of the Chester green with 65 to 70 artisans and craft vendors, is one of them. This would have been the event’s 46th year, but it had to be canceled for 2020. For the past decade or so, the event has been organized by the Chester Rotary.
Lyza Gardner, Rotary member and current Fall Festival Coordinator, says, “Vendor spaces have sold out every year with a waiting list, and booth spaces are coveted and competitive. People really care about this event. Some of our vendors have been returning for decades, and attendees seek out specific artisans every year.”
Gardner notes that the festival on the green has always been limited by physical space and capacity. She says about this year, “We were dismayed to cancel the 2020 Festival, but did so for the safety of our vendors, some who had already canceled, and attendees, and in response to the governor’s edict that [at one time] canceled all summer fairs.”
Seeing that the event on the green was canceled, Ed Peterson of the Chester American Legion Post 67 said they “didn’t want to spoil it for the Rotary” or “take anything away from the Rotary,” but they had many of their own regular events at the Legion Hall canceled and they had been looking for something that would help the veterans. Seeing as well the loss of a great community tradition, they came up with their own Craft and Flea Market on the Legion Field next to their hall this past weekend, Sept. 26 and 27. About 30 vendors and, by noon of the first day, a respectable crowd had appeared. The Legion Auxiliary and the Legion’s youth organization provided a chicken barbecue and a bake sale as well to add to the festivity.
For the Legion event, Peterson said they “would follow all the current governor’s guidelines for proper procedures.” And they did. All the protocols and precautions were followed. Masks and distancing were required and signage was posted as a reminder. Hand sanitizer was provided. There was much more room to spread out on the Legion Field as opposed to the Chester green.
This event did definitely have a different feel being about half the size in more than twice the space. But the artisans who wanted to come, and the regular attendees, had a beautiful fall day and chance to connect as they, and we all, adapted to the changed world that the virus has brought on us all.