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 Breanna Campbell, of Rochester Hills, the owner of the Schweet Spot, a gourmet vegan treat company, sells Linda Deasy, of Rochester Hills, one of her chocolate products in celebration of her birthday during the Downtown Rochester Farmers Market.

Breanna Campbell, of Rochester Hills, the owner of the Schweet Spot, a gourmet vegan treat company, sells Linda Deasy, of Rochester Hills, one of her chocolate products in celebration of her birthday during the Downtown Rochester Farmers Market.

Photo by Deb Jacques


COVID cancels, changes many summer events in Rochester

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published June 23, 2020

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ROCHESTER/ROCHESTER HILLS — As the weather warms up, people usually look forward to attending outdoor concerts, open-air events or one of the many local fireworks shows, but this summer, many annual events have been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As of June 1, when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer rescinded her Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order and declared that Michigan was moving into Phase 4 of the state’s reopening, groups of up to 100 were allowed to gather outdoors with proper social distancing.

With many local events drawing well over 100 people, a number of organizers have decided to cancel their summer events.

The city of Rochester Hills postponed the Festival of the Hills event that was previously scheduled for Wednesday, June 24, at Borden Park.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the city’s goal has been to keep the community healthy and safe. While we are proud that the Festival of the Hills is Oakland County’s largest fireworks show, the safety of our community is of utmost importance,” Mayor Bryan Barnett said in a statement. “We look forward to celebrating with our community in the near future. Until then, please stay safe and be mindful of the health and safety of others. We are in this together and will get through this together.”

For 41 years, community members have looked forward to the sweet tunes of the Rochester Kiwanis’ Music in the Park summer concert series — which typically runs Thursday evenings June-August in Rochester Municipal Park. But this year, Tom Mines, of the Rochester Kiwanis Club, said the club decided to cancel the series “in accordance to governmental guidance” and “concerns for everyone’s health and safety.”

The Rochester Lions Club decided to cancel its 21st annual Rockin Rods n’ Rochester car show — slated for Aug. 9 — “due to the COVID-19 restrictions and the economic impact this has made on our sponsors,” according to the Rochester Lions Club website.

In downtown Rochester, the Downtown Development Authority had to postpone its annual May Deck Art event to this fall, and it also cancelled its June Junk in the Trunk event.

However, DDA Director Kristi Trevarrow also had some good news to share regarding summer events.

“We’re not giving up on anything yet,” she said. “The only reason we would start cancelling anything is because we legally could not produce it.”

On May 30, the Downtown Rochester Farmers Market officially opened for its 21st season, which runs through October.

“As people came out, I can’t tell you how many people thanked us for having the market. My personal favorite — I’ve never had this as a goal for an event and I’ve been planning events for a darn long time — they told me it was normal and they loved it because it made them feel normal and they haven’t had anything that’s made them feel that way in a long time. That really meant a lot to us,” she said.

The market — which offers fresh, locally grown Michigan-made products — will continue to run 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays through October at the corner of East Third and Water streets. To keep the market as safe as possible, there is now only one point of entry to allow organizers to adhere to capacity limits. All market vendors and shoppers are encouraged to wear face masks and stay 6 feet apart.

At press time, Trevarrow said the DDA had not canceled any summer events — which typically include sidewalk sales, Dancin’ in the Street, Movies in the Moonlight and the Explorers Club.

“Events are our thing, and we can pivot. We can move quickly on a lot of things,” she said. “It’s interesting every day, but I feel like we are seeing a lot of light at the end of our tunnel right now, and we’re really going to work hard to keep our little light shining here. We’re not giving up on our summer events, not by a long shot. We just need a little bit more guidance about what we can do and the timing of when we can do it. And, just like the market, we will figure out a way to do it safely and to do it so that everyone is comfortable.”

For more information about downtown Rochester events, call (248) 656-0060 or visit www.downtownrochestermi.com.

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