BANDON — Residents and visitors alike, weary from four months of social distancing and mask wearing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, have been waiting to hear whether the 74th annual Bandon Cranberry Festival will happen.
They now have their answer — sort of.
Like most other events and festivals this year, plans have been sidelined due to the pandemic. But Bandon Chamber Board president and Cranberry Festival chairman Anthony Zunino, along with Chamber CEO Margaret Pounder, feel that the "show must go on" in one form or another.
The festival, currently set for Sept. 11-13, though that date could still change, has been themed "The Great Cransby — Return of the Roaring 20s."
"We will have a modified version this year," Zunino said. "We will have a Cranberry Marketplace with vendors but there will be no food or beverage offered. We will not have a main stage with live music, but we are trying to plan other activities that will allow for social distancing."
Zunino hopes to set up an outside dining area so festival-goers can purchase food to go from local establishments to take to that area.
Zunino said the required rules and regulations are just too difficult to adhere to without a significant increase in volunteers to help maintain Governor Kate Brown's statewide mandates regarding the virus.
There will be a Queen's Coronation where one of this year's Cranberry Court members will be crowned. This year's court includes Hannah Bristow, Kayla LaPlante and Elli Schulz, all seniors at Bandon High School. The princesses have been practicing their speeches and working on their platforms and talent presentations. If group gatherings are still not allowed in September, the coronation will be held in a virtual format and made public for all to enjoy.
This year's court is once again chaperoned by Kenzie Basey, a former Cranberry Festival princess who has been chaperoning for the past few years.
"We will have a full coronation this year, but there will be no public appearances at events, since there are no events, and if we can't have a ceremony, we will have a virtual coronation," Zunino said. "When we started planning the coronation, we could have gatherings of 250 people, but now we can only have no more than 100, socially distanced. But we're still planning regardless."
The popular annual Cranberry Festival parade will not be held, but Zunino said he anticipates something similar to what the Bandon VFW organized for the Fourth of July, which involved a festive impromptu car and truck parade throughout town.
The Old Town Marketplace will have vendors and possibly other activities as allowed. The Cranberry Bowl football game, however, is still up in the air as OSAA is still determining how fall sports will look. At this point, football may not be held until spring.
A smaller version of a car show and other festival-related activities may still be possible, but again will depend on what is allowed by the state.
"We're just not willing to just give up the heritage and tradition of Cranberry Festival," Zunino said. "And I want to have some sort of offering for the community."
Zunino said it is a lot of extra work to make sure the event complies with state rules, but he's determined to hold the festival regardless.
"It's difficult to plan," he said. "We will have to throw some plans together and fly by the seat of our pants. We're just not willing to give it up."
Ideas and suggestions are welcome — people can email them to Zunino at firstname.lastname@example.org. Volunteers are always needed as well.
For updates, visit the Bandon Cranberry Festival Facebook page or the Bandon Chamber of Commerce's website at bandon.com.