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Emmett Cherry Festival canceled for 2020

The Gem County Chamber of Commerce said it was not possible to have a safe Cherry Festival this year due to COVID-19.

BOISE, Idaho — Another popular summer event, set for mid-to-late June, is canceled because of coronavirus concerns. The Emmett Cherry Festival won't happen this year after the Gem County Chamber of Commerce made an announcement on social media Friday. 

The chamber determined it wouldn't be safe for the community to hold it.

“86th annual and this is the first time we've had to cancel it,” Gem County Chamber Spokesperson Tina Hefley said. “It just was not possible to have a safe Cherry festival, more than 50,000 people come to it each year.”

The festival was scheduled to run from June 17 to 20.

If COVID-19 infections don’t spike, and the state meets the criteria needed, the festival could be in phase four of Governor Brad Little's re-opening plan by then, which allow it to go on as scheduled.

RELATED: ‘We get about 50,000 people now ‘: Emmett Cherry Festival back for its 85th year

That fourth phase of the plan is scheduled to start on June 13 and run through the 26. This phase allows for groups of 50 or more - if social distancing can be maintained.

“To be able to practice social distancing, it just would not be possible,” Hefley said. “It was a pretty hard decision to make, we know how important the Cherry Festival is to our community and businesses.”

The festival offers something to do for the whole family. Hefley told KTVB there are a number of events held throughout the time the festival is going on.

These range from a carnival, live music, cherry pit spit contest, a pie-eating contest, a car show, a children’s parade, and then the big parade on Saturday.

“It’s a big community event,” she said.

It also gives the community a chance to celebrate cherries and support the local orchards.

“We have our orchards and it’s really important to them,” Hefley said. “We try to bring the cherries in from our local orchards and we sell them there at the Cherry Festival.”

However, the cherry crops weren’t doing so well this year according to Hefley. She said a mid-April freeze caused the orchards to lose 80-90% of their crops.

The chamber is planning on holding the event in 2021.

RELATED: Closures: List of venues, events, and public buildings closed or canceled due to coronavirus concerns

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