WILTON — The 38th Annual Wilton Blueberry Festival has been canceled and Shannon Chase Smith will retire at the conclusion of her current commitments.

The 38th Annual Wilton Blueberry Festival has been canceled because of COVID-19. Shriners are a popular attraction in the annual parade, one of the largest in the state. File photo

“It is with profound sadness The Wilton Blueberry Festival Board of Directors announce the cancellation of the 38th Wilton Blueberry Festival,” the email read. “This decision was not easy, as much thought was used when assessing the CDC Covid-19 guidelines which remain in place today. It is impossible to manage the restrictions within a public setting.”

“We’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t,” Smith said a few minutes later in a phone interview. “People aren’t paying attention to everything that’s being said.”

Even though CDC guidelines open up on May 24, six foot social distancing will still need to be maintained, she said.

“We can’t keep doing this (waiting for information), we’ve got $8,000 committed, I don’t want to lose that,” Smith said. “We needed to make a decision.”

Many of the planned activities had been canceled, according to the email. “A full refund will be initiated to those who made contributions in 2020,” it continued.

While fireworks are not restricted according to the CDC, social distancing is still required which would be difficult with the crowd that usually attends, Smith said. The CDC also recommends no parades be held in the State of Maine this year, although the CDC hasn’t sent that information out, she added.

“I’m glad I had a committee to talk to and it wasn’t a one person decision,” Smith said. “I don’t do it alone, a lot of people help. It wasn’t easy to make the decision, it breaks my heart. It’s hard, we all have to plan. Eight Shriners groups were coming this year.

“If we did have the festival, everybody would come,” she noted. “There would be more people than ever.”

Not wanting the responsibility should something happen was a factor in the decision, Smith said.

“We’re doing the best we can,” she said. “There are still too many unknowns.”

The email also announced Smith will retire after the conclusion of her commitments.

Shannon Chase Smith has announced she will be retiring from the Wilton Blueberry Festival. Rep. Scott Landry (D-Farmington) and Smith are seen greeting one another prior to the last parade in 2019. File photo

“It wasn’t the way I intended to finish up my 30th year,” she said. Smith had announced in January, 2020 she would be stepping down at the end of that year. Because the festival was postponed last year she agreed to stay on to complete the plans already in place for the 38th festival.

“I’ll enjoy Dummer’s Beach with my grandson and family,” Smith said when asked what her plans are. “He asks, ‘Mimi, no meeting this morning’ and loves it when I don’t have to come to town.”

Smith admits there will be a void but at the same time there won’t be as she will always keep involved.

“The community is my life,” she said. “I’m blessed to have had the community support I’ve had over the years.”

Those with questions should contact Smith at 207-778-4726 or [email protected]

 

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