NEWMAN - Organizers are laying the groundwork for the return of the Newman Fall Festival this Labor Day weekend - with the understanding that the full celebration which generations have enjoyed through the years may not yet be possible.

More than a dozen people attended a Feb. 23 organizational meeting at which a new board of directors was elected, establishing the framework for Fall Festival planning to proceed.

Christine Eddington was elected chairperson, Tina Newton and Coral Munoz are vice chairs, Brandon Melo will serve as secretary and Michelle Wood was elected treasurer.

Eddington said she was encouraged by the level of interest, noting that chairs for a number of event committees were also selected.

Going forward, Eddington explained, organizers are going to plan with contingencies and will present as many activities as pandemic guidelines allow.

The top priority, she explained, will be crowning a new Miss Newman.

Eddington said she is optimistic that the festival will be able to host a Miss Newman Pageant when early September rolls around - but acknowledged that it may very well have to be held outdoors in the downtown plaza and possibly with attendance restrictions to allow for social distancing.

She said the committee hopes to be able to hold the traditional “Evening Under the Stars” in the plaza, but that events such as the parade and park activities may prove more problematic due to the difficulty of controlling crowd sizes and enforcing social distancing.

The committee, she emphasized, is keeping a full Fall Festival on the table for consideration while planning for alternatives.

“We are going to plan as if it was a regular year, and we will have a second scenario in the event that there are restrictions on the number of people who can be in attendance and outdoor events (are the only activities allowed),” Eddington explained. “When you are looking at COVID guidelines, those tend to be the guidelines.”

She said the downward trend in cases is encouraging.

“Our event is in the fall. It is a little further out, so we have more time to get down the tier system,” Eddington pointed out. “I am hopeful that we will be in the yellow tier, with fewer restrictions, by September.”

Regardless of how this year plays out, Eddington said, the Fall Festival organizers are putting the foundation in place to continue the traditional event in the future.

That process, she said, includes becoming established as a registered non-profit organization.

“I’m happy that we have a new board of directors, and event committee chairs stepping up,” Eddington remarked. “Even if we don’t have (some events) this year, we will be ready for next year.”

Volunteers are still needed, she noted.

Community members interested in volunteering may visit the Fall Festival Facebook page or email newmanfallfestival@yahoo.com.