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Popular Idaho festivals, events prepare to return following cancellation in 2020

As Idaho continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the entertainment industry is making a much-anticipated comeback.

EMMETT, Idaho — As Idaho continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the entertainment industry is making a much-anticipated comeback. Many of the events returning were postponed or canceled last year due to the pandemic.

One of the events returning is the Emmett Cherry Festival, which begins Wednesday and will continue through Saturday.

The event's comeback is nothing short of perfect timing, according to the Gem County Chamber of Commerce. Because the festival did not happen last year, the chamber of commerce needs it this year to stay afloat.

"We had zero income, we were actually in the whole at the chamber," said Tina Hefly, the chief financial officer for the Gem County Chamber of Commerce. "Luckily, we had enough reserve to get us through but it's really good this year to be able to have it because the income we get from this is what we can put out to our community and businesses."

The Emmett Cherry Festival is not the only much-anticipated thing returning to Gem County: the event is set to bring in as many as 55,000 people looking to enjoy rides, music, and cherries.

However, there are several changes in place this year.

"We still have things that we are going to do," Hefly said. "The rides will be deep cleaned every so many hours, hand sanitizer at every one of the booths, masks available at the chamber."

Other popular events, like the National Oldtime Fiddlers Contest in Weiser, are not ready to come back in full force yet. Instead, more than 170 competitors will perform in front of their family, friends and VIP ticket holders, according to the festival's executive director Sandy Cooper.

"When we weighed what additional income of having our general admission folks there versus the exponential increase in our expenses, we decided to hold off another year," she explained. "It was so late in the year to advertise and let people know they needed to make the changes they need to make in order to be here."

The contest typically brings in a gross income of $200,000-$250,000 each year, but Cooper expects this year's income to be down 30%. However, she feels a scaled-down festival is better than no festival.

"The folks here in our community and the fiddle contestants who work very hard to get to the level that they are, I think it was very imperative that we found a way to hold a contest," Cooper said. "If we don't, I feel like we would be letting everyone down, including our community." 

Matt Borud with the Idaho Commerce issued the following statement regarding larger festivals returning to Idaho this year:

Events returning, like the Emmett Cherry Festival, Weiser Fiddle Festival, and North Fork Championship in Crouch among other events like rodeos, concerts and parades, bring important visitor spending to Idaho small businesses like restaurants, retail, and other attractions in the area. 

Beyond the economic impact, these events are a source of community pride, an opportunity to showcase historic places, cultural activities, and exceptional culinary experiences throughout Idaho.

Other events happening this summer include: 

North Fork Championship - June 17 -20

Meridian Dairy Days - June 23 - 26

Eagle Fun Days - July 9 - July 10

Ketchum Arts Festival - July 9-11

Snake River Stampede - July 20-24

Sawtooth Valley Gathering - Aug. 5 -8

Braun Brothers Reunion - Aug. 12 - 14

Caldwell Night Rodeo - Aug. 17 - 21

The Western Idaho Fair - Aug. 20 - 29

Treasure Valley Fine Arts Festival - Aug. 28 - 29

Eastern Idaho State Fair - Sept. 3 - 11

Treefort Music Festival - Sept. 22 - 26

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