Fate of fair parade hangs in balance
UPDATE -- The 2020 Putnam County Fair Parade has been canceled.
Just one day before Purdue Extension announced that July county 4-H fairs can occur after restrictions on face-to-face events end June 30, the fate of the 2020 Putnam County fair parade was in front of the Greencastle City Council.
Fair Parade Committee Chairman Nancy Michael made her annual appearance to discuss the street closures and barricades necessary to put on the parade, which is scheduled to take on its route from the Y intersection down Washington Street to the square and back down Franklin Street on Sunday, July 12 at 2 p.m.
While the City Council will wait to make an official decision next month, Michael needed some guidance prior to seeking an Indiana Department of Transportation permit since a portion of the parade uses U.S. 231.
With the specter of the COVID-19 issue hanging over everyone’s head, trying to organize the fair parade has met with more than the usual roadblocks.
“Nothing is normal about planning this parade,” Michael said, indicating the parade will likely go on without any high school bands because the schools have been closed.
She acknowledged that other regular attractions may not feel safe taking part, which makes it difficult “trying to sort out whether July 12 is going to be a good date for us on May 14.”
“The fair parade has been a fantastic tradition,” Michael said. “The last thing we want to do is have a fizzle of a parade.”
Michael was asked about parade participants handing out candy and bottled water.
“I’m guessing the answer could be no,” she responded, for fear of passing germs. “If we had to make a decision for tomorrow, I’d probably not be for handing anything out.”
Councilor Stacie Langdon suggested that if the parade is looking at less participation because of the COVID-19 virus, maybe it would “be better to err on the side of caution.”
Councilman Dave Murray said he “amplified Stacie’s comments.”
“The pandemic is lasting longer than July 12 from what I hear,” Murray said.
Michael, the former three-term Greencastle mayor, assured the Council that the committee was “vetting it hard, trying to make a good decision.”
Another issue that emerged was social distancing along the parade route and whether or not that was remotely possible.
“To be real honest,” Michael said, “I’ll tell you, I don’t think we can.”
Council members agreed.
“Just from a logistical standpoint,” Councilor Veronica Pejril responded, “it violates the six-foot rule. You can’t set up a lawnchair along the curb and have it be six feet from people walking on the sidewalk.”
Putting on the parade July 12 seems like “an impossibility,” Councilman Adam Cohen offered. “If it’s 80 or 90 degrees outside, masks are going to be brutal. I’d be hesitant to go ahead with the parade this year.”
Purdue Extension has said local 4-H fair boards, 4-H councils and county extension educators may continue planning for events in alignment with Indiana’s Back on Track plan and in consultation with local health officials.
“July seems a little premature to me,” Councilman Tyler Wade said. “But people are in charge of their own health, and if folks don’t feel safe about going to the parade, they shouldn’t go to the parade.”
Michael promised to return for the June Council meeting, which is set for Thursday, June 11. By then more information should be available on the status of the virus and public events in Indiana.
Meanwhile, tackling another virus-related issue, the City Council unanimously approved the temporary closing of South Indiana Street between Washington and Walnut streets to allow for outside seating for Moore’s Bar, Taphouse Burgers and Scoops Ice Cream patrons.
Those businesses have been grappling with adhering to the 50 percent capacity ruling currently in place. In Moore’s case, that means a capacity of 35, owner Pete Meyer said.
His wife, Julie Meyer, suggested that nine weeks into the shutdown, it’s time to get creative.
With no way to increase seating inside, she said, “We have to look elsewhere. It’s summertime, let’s go outside.”
Moore’s will provide picnic tables- to be placed in the parking areas along the street, thus allowing for emergency vehicles to access the street if necessary.
The closing will be in effect until July 12.
The Meyers said all food will be carry-out in nature with no servers outside. Moore’s will be responsible for trash collection.
Alcohol can be sold in a sealed container. Plans call for aluminum twist-off top bottles, negating the possibility of broken glass from regular beer bottles.
The request had the support of about a dozen merchant representatives in attendance, including those from Wasser Brewery, Taphouse, Bridges, Bread Works, Scoops and the Tenzer Building.
Councilman Cohen made the motion to approve the request with a second from Pejril. The vote was unanimous.
In a related matter, Mayor Bill Dory announced that the section of South Indiana Street from Walnut to Poplar Street in front of Bread Works will reopen on Friday. The business first will bring in its asphalt contractor to repair the street where water and sewer cuts were made.
The City Council will next meet in special session at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 21 at City Hall to interview two candidates –- incumbent Brian Cox and Ed Wilson-- for one of its two school board appointments.
After interviews, a decision is expected to be made Thursday night. The meeting is open to the public.