Will they, won’t they: Annual events face pandemic’s impacts

Sat, 04/04/2020 - 8:45am

    Some of Wiscasset’s biggest spring and summer events are off, on, or in limbo as organizers keep safety first and cite other factors the pandemic has wrought on plans for the annual must-go’s.

    Wiscasset Art Walk, historically the last Thursday in June though September, is on hold but, so far, not out of the picture for 2020. Longtime organizer Lucia Droby explained via email: “Since the WAW invites people to gather, meet neighbors, make new friends, and visit galleries and shops, the most prudent decision is to avoid encouraging social gathering.  If the pandemic subsides in the summer, we would definitely resume WAW's schedule and provide this community-wide opportunity to heal the effects of social isolation.”

    The walk’s budget depends on business sponsors and modest participation fees from village businesses and guest artists, Droby said. “I'm loathe to ask for these contributions at this time knowing how financially challenging this moment is to our small businesses.” Seasonal residents Frank and Donna Barnako, contributors since the walk’s inception, have made a private gift that will help with costs, she added “on the upside.”

    And Droby is eying another path toward promoting creativity and commerce like the walks do: She is asking past WAW artists and shops for images and information she will post on Facebook.

    May will not bring Garden Club of Wiscasset’s annual plant sale. “We might do something later in the summer or early fall but have no definite plan at this point,” Club President Beth Maxwell said in an email response.

    And it is not yet known if June will bring the 68th annual Strawberry Festival at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church. The church has not made a decision, member Gretchen Burleigh-Johnson said via email April 2. 

    First Congregational Church of Wiscasset’s Summerfest is still on for July 25. “We are continuing as planned and hoping and praying that we will be able to gather then without concern,” Rev. Josh Fitterling said in an email reply. “To that end, we will keep monitoring the situation in our state, nation, and world, and adjust as needed. Flexibility is key in these days!”

    Fitterling said Summerfest’s yard sale might be “bigger than ever” if people staying home are cleaning out their closets, attics and garages. And he said the church is considering how to involve businesses, which normally donate to the silent auction, he said. “We know that this time will be challenging for our businesses and we want to do what we can to support them as we support all the helping organizations that benefit from Summerfest. Finding a way of doing both would be, in my opinion, ideal and give the greatest benefit to our community.”