The 75th annual Fiesta Days celebration has officially been cancelled. The Fiesta Board convened a special meeting last Thursday evening via ZOOM (an online meeting platform) to discuss the matter. In light of the continued spread and threat of the COVID-19 virus, the board moved to cancel the celebration for the first time since the inaugural Fiesta Days in 1945.

The 75th annual Fiesta Days celebration has officially been cancelled. The Fiesta Board convened a special meeting last Thursday evening via ZOOM (an online meeting platform) to discuss the matter. In light of the continued spread and threat of the COVID-19 virus, the board moved to cancel the celebration for the first time since the inaugural Fiesta Days in 1945.

“There was nothing else we could do,” said Fiesta Board member Rob Jepma. “The safety of the community was our foremost concern, and we were also about to begin our prime time drive for donations.”

According to Jepma, Fiesta Days is funded through 75 to 80 percent community donations. “While the pandemic is ongoing, we decided this was absolutely the wrong time to begin soliciting donations,” he said. “Granted, this would have been the 75th Fiesta Days celebration, but we wanted to take into consideration what the financial situation of the community would be like in a couple of months.”

The Fiesta Board also decided to combine the 75th Fiesta Days with next year’s 76th annual celebration. Jepma said: “That’s not to say that we can’t do something later this summer like a park event or something similar, but for right now, we have to play it safe.”

Most of the plans for this year’s Fiesta Days were already in place before last Thursday’s meeting. Jepma said: “We were really far along in the planning of this year’s event. Our next step would have been to send out donation letters and meet one-on- one with business owners.

“We were ready to get the Royalty Candidates lined up with sponsors. We were also set to send out between 700 and 800 invitations to past royalty, ambassadors, and anyone connected with Fiesta Days over the years. There were also a lot of class reunions which were going to be held.”

Perhaps the biggest disappointment in all of this is the Fiesta Days Grand Day Parade. “This was a big bummer for us because we had one heck of a parade set up for this year. We moved the parade back to Main Street, and it was to be held on Saturday. We had a number of marching bands lined up,” said Jepma. “We haven’t had bands in years. We already had nearly 80 units lined up for the parade, which being this early in the planning was huge. We could easily have had 200 plus units for this year’s parade.”

The decision to cancel this year’s celebration wasn’t taken lightly by the Fiesta Board. “It was tough,” said Jepma. “We knew that, with the speed at which the virus was spreading, it would not be feasible for us to hold Fiesta Days this year. There wasn’t one person on the board who disagreed with the decision. It was a unanimous vote and we are confident it was the right thing to do.”

If there is a silver lining to this, it’s that all of this year’s hard work will be a benefit to next year’s Fiesta Days. Jepma said: “A lot of the brick work has already been laid out. None of our work for this year has been wasted. We have more time to line up some key bands for next year’s parade.”

Despite cancelling Fiesta Days for this year, the board will continue to do some fundraising. “We will still be doing our calendar fundraiser,” said Jepma. “We will be extending the time for our calendar sales until October or November. It will still go on.”

One big event that also had to be cancelled was the annual Fiesta Kick Off. “The Fiesta Kick Off was scheduled to be held at the American Legion on Saturday, April 18, but we had to cancel it; we couldn’t do it even if we wanted to,” said Jepma.

According to Jepma, the Fiesta Board members feel bad about cancelling Fiesta Days. “It’s really very sad. Fiesta Days is such a wonderful family celebration. Grandparents enjoy bringing their grandkids to all the events, and parents enjoy bringing their kids. Summer town celebrations are such an Americana thing,” he said.

Fiesta Days is the first town celebration in the area to announce the cancellation of their celebration, but it likely won’t be the only one. “I think a lot of our town celebrations will be cancelled this summer,” Jepma said.

Jepma reiterated that, if something drastic would occur and the course of the pandemic would take a turn for the better over the course of the next couple of months, a community event could be planned for later this year. “As of right now, though, I don’t anticipate this virus will go away anytime soon,” he said.

Sadly, the 75th Fiesta Days will go down in local history as being cancelled by a pandemic. It will, however be celebrated next year, and it will be bigger and better than ever.