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Riverfest a 'no-go' again

The Hillsdale Daily News - 3/19/2021

Mar. 19—JONESVILLE — Riverfest has been a staple in the Jonesville community for over 40 years drawing crowds to the downtown area.

The 2020 Riverfest event was cancelled outright due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and, unfortunately, the event was cancelled for this year as well after the Jonesville City Council denied the request of the organizing committee Wednesday night.

The council had asked the committee of private businesses and partners who organized the event to obtain written permission from the Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Health Department to hold the event with a written safety plan to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

However, according to Jim Pope, who has helped to organize the event for the past 20 plus years, the health department would not give written permission to hold a modified version of Riverfest due to the ongoing concerns caused by COVID-19.

The council took up the issue again Wednesday night after receiving a letter from the committee notifying the council that the health department would not be approving the event.

The letter stated that other communities in the region were proceeding with events—such as the Strawberry Fest in Coldwater and the Polishfest in Bronson—and that some events this past winter occurred without a significant spike in COVID-19 cases contributed to the events.

"We are not asking anyone who is concerned to step outside of their comfort zone to participate, but we are requesting that you, the city manager and the city council, support our local businesses and community with this annual event request," the letter, signed by Pope, Don Germann, Jeremy Spratt and Deb Hollister, stated.

Pope said the committee will meet again Monday night to discuss their options now which may include a car show elsewhere on private property and away from city owned right-of-ways.


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