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Geneva Chamber hints at smaller version of Festival of the Vine

'We’re doing what we can, but there are no guarantees at all'

GENEVA – With the city of Geneva not granting any special events permits – at least until Oct. 1 because of the coronavirus pandemic – festival of the vine is canceled for September, Geneva Chamber of Commerce spokeswoman Laura Rush said.

“Realistically, you could not do what we do – that’s 75,000 people. It’s crowded,” Rush said. “I don’t know how many people would have come or if nobody comes. It’s still very cautious about going out.”

The city is following the governor’s reopening guidelines of limiting public gatherings to 50 people and social distancing – an impossibility when considering the crowds that normally fill Geneva’s downtown for the three-day festival.

This year would have been the 41st Festival of the Vine.

Normally, the chamber hosts a Flavor Fare of local restaurants, along with wine, music, a craft fair, merchants offering special sales and other events.

But Rush said all is not lost for this year.

“The chamber is still working through some things,” Rush said. “We hope to know more maybe in the next two weeks to have some form of a Festival of a Vine. But it won’t be what people know it as festival.”

Because of the 50-person limit, the chamber would have to sell tickets for it and abide by all state regulations for social distancing, Rush said.

“We are working on doing something with wine, music and food … as a ticketed event,” Rush said. “We still have lots of steps to take. It’s still in the very planning stages.”

If the chamber is able to pull something off, it would just be its own event, not where it is coordinating with merchants and publishing a brochure, Rush said.

The chamber’s normal Swedish Days festival was canceled for June, its normal Arts Fair was canceled for July and the July and August Thursday night car shows were also canceled.

“We know the public wants something. Our merchants want something. That is not a secret,” Rush said. “We field calls daily, 10-12 calls a day asking about the Festival of the Vine and the car show. The car show is completely canceled. People like this festival. We’re doing what we can, but there are no guarantees at all.”

Rush said people should keep checking the chamber website, for updated information.

“We are being very conservative but very creative,” Rush said. “Six people thinking outside the box, with fingers crossed. We hope to have good news.”

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