Big Butler County festivals rescheduling due to coronavirus

Kingsgate Logistics Buckeye BBQ Fest presented by Rotary Club of West Chester/Liberty will be held on Friday, May 17 and Saturday, May 18 at The Square @ Union Centre in West Chester. CONTRIBUTED

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Kingsgate Logistics Buckeye BBQ Fest presented by Rotary Club of West Chester/Liberty will be held on Friday, May 17 and Saturday, May 18 at The Square @ Union Centre in West Chester. CONTRIBUTED

Ohio may ease its stay-at-home rules after May 1, but operators of two popular May festivals in Butler County have already decided to cancel or postpone their events.

Hamilpalooza is an annual festival that combines food, drink, live entertainment, and shopping. More than 100 vendors would typically set up booths, selling gifts, home décor, and vintage items, and there would be clubs, nonprofits, professional organizations, restaurant caterers, and food trucks. Hamilpalooza is still slated to happen in 2020, and at the Butler County Fairgrounds like usual, just not until Aug. 29 after a move from its original date of May 2.

“It’s far enough out we feel the public will be more comfortable in gathering together,” said Dan Bates, President and CEO of the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce. “It’s also a good date because we don’t have to alter or move anything else we had planned.”

Bates added that all sponsors are still onboard, so with the possible exception of a hotter day, the Hamilpalooza experience will be exactly the same as always.

By contrast, the Buckeye BBQ Festival, typically two days of live music, craft beer and wine, and all varieties of BBQ and other treats, was hoping to celebrate its 10th anniversary on May 15 and 16 at The Square @ Union Centre.

Six weeks from that date, the Rotary Club of West Chester/Liberty, the rights holder of the festival, were still hopeful if not overly optimistic about keeping that date, as many club members had been laid off, furloughed, or were working from home like most other Ohioans. On April 10, Art Mathews, Festival Chair, released a statement saying the festival would be moved to May 2021.

“Our entire board discussed the issue thoroughly,” Mathews said. “We had several alternate dates for consideration. The overall opinion was that people won’t be ready for a ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ throng at a festival several thousand people deep.

‘I was originally a proponent of postponing the festival until late summer or fall, but I believe the right decision was made. Our leaders said things will be different (even) when we reopen. NFL (and other professional sports) games may not happen this year. I believe many ‘rescheduled’ festivals will be canceled in 2020.”

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