NEWMAN - For the first time in five decades, Newman will be quiet on Labor Day weekend.
No parades, pageants, wine-and-cheese tasting or the variety of activities which typically pack the weekend from start to finish.
For generations, Labor Day weekend has been synonymous with the Fall Festival in Newman.
But this year, as organizers were gearing up to throw a party to remember in celebration of the festival’s 50th year, those plans were shut down by the coronavirus pandemic.
Teri Ramos, who this year became chairperson of the Fall Festival, announced last week that the 2020 event has been canceled.
City Manager Michael Holland said the decision was made after the county health official advised that she did not envision large-scale gatherings being allowed this summer - and possibly not through the remainder of the year.
While disappointing, Ramos said, the decision came as no surprise in light of other community celebrations such as Patterson’s Apricot Fiesta and county fairs being canceled.
“I had a feeling. We figured that was going to happen,” she related.
Ramos said that she is disappointed not only for the community but for the local clubs which rely on the Fall Festival for fund-raising and the various vendors whose livelihood is on the circuit of community celebrations and fairs.
“They are all shut down,” she said.
The Fall Festival is an enduring Newman tradition which ushers in autumn each year, a last blast of summer fun which the community embraces with gusto.
“It was going to be our 50th, and we were going to try to have a lot of fun with it,” Ramos reflected. “People are going to miss it. They look forward to it. The Fall Festival is like a big family reunion, where people see friends they haven’t seen for a long time.”
Organizers hope to bring the Fall Festival back in 2021, she emphasized.
“We’re not going to close up shop. We are going to try to get through all of this, and maybe next year we can do the big 50th in the 51st year,” Ramos told Mattos Newspapers. “We will try to do something to keep it going. This will give us some time to regroup and maybe get some more people (on the committee). We are just going to hit the pause button, and see what happens when we can start planning for the next one. Hopefully in the meantime we will be able to raise some more money and do some things so that we can make it a bigger celebration next year.”