GRAND RAPIDS – The coronavirus pandemic has caused the cancellation of another long-running event.

Organizers for the Applebutter Festival have announced it will not be held this October due to COVID-19. This was to be the 44th annual event.

The announcement was made on the festival’s website.

Village council and the festival committee conferred and determined Thursday that for the good of the village and everybody involved it would be best to cancel this year, said organizer Steve Kryder.

This is the first time the event has been canceled, he said.

The Applebutter Festival is historical reenactments, pioneer demonstrations, crafts, live music and food held the second Sunday in October. It draws an estimated 50,000 people to the village.

He said in early April, plans continued as if the festival was going to happen, but then demonstrators – many are in the age group who are at risk from the virus – began expressing concern, he said.

“How do you distance when you have a crowd?” Kryder asked. “It just became a lot more fuss.”

Of upmost concern was the health of village residents, vendors and volunteers. There was also a concern about paying for the festival and having no one show up.

He said it cost typically costs around $100,000, but extra portable bathrooms, hand sanitizer stations and buses would have been needed.

Money raised supports such events as Rhythm of the River, Civil War day for Otsego students, and the library’s history room.

“We put all of that back into the community,” Kryder said.

The festival also provides fundraising opportunities to area organizations such as Boy Scouts, churches and school organizations.

It can also be a boost for merchants.

“It does create interest in the town, for people to see things and come back later,” Kryder said.

The cancellation of the National Tractor Pulling Championship, held in August in Bowling Green, was announced earlier this month. In May, the Black Swamp Arts Festival also announced its postponement to 2021.

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