Planning for the 2021 Waterfowl Festival is underway in Easton. Waterfowl Chesapeake — the nonprofit parent of the popular event — has already started the process of inviting artists, craftsmen and vendors for the 2021 festival in November.

That is very good news for the Eastern Shore and our collective psyche.

The Waterfowl’s 50th annual festival was canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The cancellation was a big blow to the Shore.

The Waterfowl attracts 15,000 attendees to Easton long after beach season ends. The event has a $2.6 million economic impact.

Those benefits were erased by the pandemic and all its shutdowns.

The dynamic played out across Maryland and across the country. The cancellations of festivals, concerts, sporting events and other social and cultural functions have a ripple effect on jobs, small businesses and social cohesion.

The Waterfowl, for example, creates opportunities for artists and artisans, bookings for hotels and customers for shops, bars and restaurants in Easton, St. Michaels, Oxford, Trappe and other parts of the Shore.

We are heartened to hear that the Waterfowl is working on its plans for celebrating the event’s 50th anniversary in November. Waterfowl Chesapeake officials know they still have to plan for social distancing and keeping guests, volunteers and artists safe.

The COVID situation is improving but remains very fluid. We hope this November will look a little more like November 2019 and a lot less like November 2020.

Waterfowl Festival organizers deserve our strong support for moving forward with their 2021 plans. We need to plan accordingly and take care to protect our most vulnerable.

But we cannot remain frozen in place and frozen in fear.

There are still many small businesses, jobs, livelihoods and our collective mental health hanging in the balance. All those things cannot take another year of postponements, cancellations and isolation.

The same holds true for schools, which need to responsibly reopen more for in-person classes.

Our kids cannot afford to miss another year of school. Many parents cannot afford to be put in the position of having to choose between jobs and child care.

Our friends at the Waterfowl Festival have a lot of planning to do and we all face continued some uncharted waters as we emerge from the pandemic.

But it is very good news to see such an important part of our community and our economy moving forward with positive plans for 2021.

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