Caroline Summerfest

A family enjoys Caroline Summerfest and a photo op with Gov. Larry Hogan in downtown Denton on Aug. 17, 2019.

DENTON — Under the advisement of the Caroline County Department of Recreation and Parks and local county officials, the 2020 Caroline Summerfest scheduled for Aug. 21-22 has been cancelled. The next Summerfest is scheduled for Aug. 20-21, 2021.

Sue Simmons, Director of Caroline County Parks and Recreation, said although it was a tough decision, it was best for the safety of all people who planned to attend.

“We think this is a sensible decision given the times,” Simmons said. “It certainly has the support of staff and teams on both sides.”

Simmons reiterated safety in an uncertain COVID-19 pandemic as the main reason for the decision.

“We have approximately 25 county staff that work the event on top of more than 100 volunteers each year,” Simmons said. “The event draws in about 2,500 people over the two-day event and we just aren’t prepared for a crowd size that large this soon.”

With the 2020 cancellation, Simmons and her teams have more time to prepare for the 2021 event.

“We assemble a core steering committee of R&P and municipal employees in January for monthly production meetings to consult on themes, festival layout, adjustments and fundraising strategies,” she said.

Changes in the event from year to year is also an important task for Simmons as she looks to improve the annual event.

“Of course there will be changes,” she said. “Most importantly this is an opportunity to pause, engage existing and potential new partners and consider what we value about the event and how it could work (on) a variety of scales.”

”I do want to listen and use this time to reflect on changes that would make sense to sustain the event from 2021 to 2030,” Simmons said. “What will not change is the partnership we have with the Caroline County Council of Arts. Summerfest has engaged over 100 performing artists each year — amateur, emerging and professional — on a variety of performance stages. We want to see this continue to a be a backdrop of the festival attractions.”

Simmons also understands that there will be people upset by this decision but she is hoping to encourage people that waiting until next year will be worth it.

”To say that I do not take this personally is an understatement, but I also take personally the health and welfare of the public,” she said. “We will be back #Carolinestrong in 2021. The loyal sponsors, volunteers and non-profit vendors are a huge part of the event’s past success. We are always grateful to them and look forward to Aug. 20 and 21 in 2021.”

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