More outdoor events returning to Butler County in 2021: What planners are saying

Local event organizers and businesses are making adjustments to their schedules as warmer weather approaches, more people get vaccinations and Gov. Mike DeWine gets closer to lifting restrictions.

After about every event last year was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, organizers hope DeWine’s announcement that county fairs can operate more fully this year is an indication that more regulations will be eliminated.

“People are itching to get outside and be social again,” said David Pearce, organizer of Middletown’s Ohio Balloon Challenge that was canceled in 2020. “We are not used to being indoors.”

Those who plan spring and summer events throughout the region said it’s too early to make “concrete decisions,” said Brittany Theilman, community events coordinator for the City of Fairfield.

DeWine’s restrictions could be removed “tomorrow or not until 2022,” Theilman said.

Hamilton’s annual Memorial Day Parade has been canceled for the second straight year, said organizer Michael Cupp. But he said Memorial Day ceremonies will start at 10 a.m. May 31 at the Butler County Soldiers Monument, 1 S. Monument Ave.

Color guards from the Hamilton Fire Department, Hamilton Police Department, Butler County Sheriff’s Office and AmVets will lay wreathes outside the monument. The ceremony will continue inside with several Butler County veterans talking about their experiences.

Canceling the parade “was a shame,” Cupp said, but there was no way it could follow the health guidelines.

Fairfield’s annual Memorial Day Parade will be a drive-by starting from the Fairfield Community Arts Center at 10 a.m. May 31, Theilman said.

The parade will drive by several public locations in Fairfield, including Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1069, Fairfield Youth Playfields, Waterworks Park, Thomas O. Marsh Park, Fairfield Aquatic Center, Point Pleasant Park and Veterans Memorial Park. A limited number of free American flags for spectators will be available at the Arts Center.

Pearce called DeWine allowing county fairs “a very promising” sign that outdoor events will be held with mask and social distancing restrictions.

The Ohio Challenge is scheduled for July 16-17 at Smith Park with “a modified look,” Pearce said. That means the arts and craft fair may be eliminated to give food vendors and their customers additional space.

In West Chester Twp., spokeswoman Barb Wilson said The Takeover, a weekly concert series at The Square at Union Centre, probably will be pushed back one month. Instead of starting in June, the first concert is planned for July 8, she said.

The series typically ran through August. The schedule may change as the governor updates his regulations.

Other businesses are making more permanent changes to help residents enjoy outdoors. Two glass windows were knocked out of Spoken Bicycles, 1201 Central Ave. in Middletown, on Thursday and replaced with two retractable windows, 16 feet of table space outside and eight feet of table space inside.

The goal, Spoken Bicycles owner Otto Bohn said, is to create “an inside/outside vibe” that’s growing in popularity throughout downtowns.

The large glass windows push out, allowing patrons to enjoy drinks while sitting on stools inside the bike shop or outside near Central Avenue, he said.

“It’s going to be good,” Bohn said.

He believes the added seating will be popular for those who ride bikes, attend downtown’s First Friday events and spend the day shopping.

“People are excited about getting back out,” he said.

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