Festivals and other events are key to both business and community in Homewood. But many are being canceled and postponed in the new reality of COVID-19.
“We want to provide a sense of hope and to assist the economy, especially with our independent business owners here in Homewood. But healthy residents, that’s priority one and we will not do anything to harm our residents by hosting an event too soon,” Village Events Coordinator Allisa Opyd said. “We’re still planning for future events and staying hopeful. It’s April, we really don’t know what July will be.”
The village will continue to make arrangements without making any permanent moves like accepting deposits for events for the time being, Opyd said. Homewood will look to evolving state and federal regulations for guidance.
Homewood farmers’ markets have been postponed for the time being. Opyd said Market Manager Kate Duff and the village have been in communication about when and how it could start again. The hope is that markets would begin in June with virus mitigation plans in place.
Only about eight to 10 vendors would be permitted, all of which would be farmers. There will be hand-washing stations and sanitizers. Entertainment and prepared foods will not be included, initially. The market will have one entrance, sectioned off with fencing.
Only 15 people will be allowed in at a time and each will be required to maintain social distancing practices. The village will work with Cook County Department of Public Health and local police and fire departments to help mold the rules as time passes.
“There are other opportunities that we’ll have in using this kind of model as we slowly open the market, to safely transition to reopening events when the time is right,” Opyd said. “With all of our events, safety has always been a priority and will always be a priority.”
Rail Fest, Homewood’s annual event for train enthusiasts, was officially canceled. It was scheduled for May 16. Opyd said Rail Fest was the only event that was fully in motion before being canceled. Vendors who’d already paid had their checks returned.
The Memorial Day Parade is also canceled.
“There really has not been a loss in revenue from our budget because we really have not made any deposits,” Opyd said.
One event has been rescheduled.
The Artisan Street Fair was originally planned for June 5 and 6. It includes vendors selling artisan products, art, locally-sourced food, vintage items, garden décor and other items. That event is now combined with Fall Fest on September 26.
“It’ll be a very large event, as far as with art vendors,” Opyd said. “We were still working on the infrastructure (for Artisan Street Fair) because we know the Triumph building on the corner of Martin Avenue and Ridge Road will be coming down. So, we were still working with public works to identify where the best place was to have the stage. Where do we put our food vendors? How many generators were we going to need? We’d just started that conversation when we had to cancel it.”
No vendors will need refunds for Artisan Street Fair, Opyd said.
The Fast and the Furriest 5K to benefit the South Suburban Humane Society is also being moved, likely to September. The run was planned for May 30. No new date has been confirmed.
Drivin’ the Dixie, the yearly celebration of vintage cars and the historic Dixie Highway, was called off. It was set for June 20. Opyd said the village planned to remove the Homewood stop from the route, had the event gone on as scheduled.
South Suburban Family Shelter is planning a 40th anniversary celebration on Martin Avenue in July. Opyd said the village is still supporting that.
“It’s a great team that makes all this happen, from public works to other vendors working for the infrastructure (of the events),” Opyd said. “The good news is that our vendors that we work with have all been very gracious and understanding that we’re all in the same situation.”