By Scott Carlson

The organizers of the St. Anthony Park Arts Festival have cancelled the 2021 arts festival due to continuing fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The nonprofit issued the following statement late Wednesday, Nov. 11:

“Based on what we know about COVID-19 today and the time it takes to plan the arts festival, we are not able to host the event in June 2021. The Library Board voted unanimously in support of cancelling the arts festival for 2021.

“Co-directors Tanya Anderson and Deanna Seppanen and the planning committee hope you all will support local artists over the holidays and also support our local library! The library is losing this annual fundraiser two years in a row because of Covid 19.

“Visit sapfest.org to donate via our website. We look forward to a strong return to our community tradition in St. Anthony Park in 2022.”

The cancellation of the arts festival again is a significant loss for St. Anthony Park. Lisa Sackreiter, former chairperson of the St. Anthony Park Community Foundation said, “The Community Foundation has sponsored the Children’s Art Tent the last several years at this event and not only has it been a popular stop for families because it has provided free creative activities to entertain kids. It has also been a place to pause and connect with neighbors, strangers, and Community Foundation directors. The Art Fair and the Children’s Art Tent are community building events that will be missed.”

For the past 50 years, the St. Anthony Park Arts Festival has been a signature event in early June, drawing hundreds of spectators to the neighborhood to see dozens of artists and vendors in a fundraiser that also benefits the local community library.

But the COVID-19 pandemic has painted a jarring picture for the festival for the second consecutive year. Organizers in mid-April canceled the 2020 event. They blamed uncertainty over whether Minnesota’s state “shelter-in-place” restrictions aimed at thwarting the spread of the COVID-19 virus still would be in effect June 6, the planned date for that festival.

“The permits and planning required to hold the Festival on June 6 are quickly becoming difficult to predict,” organizers said last spring of the 2020 festival. “This event is organized by volunteers and bene­fits the summer programs of our St. Anthony Park Library, as well as the work of nearly 70 artists. Because of the density of the artists, booths and the great crowd the festival draws, it is safer for all to cancel.”

The second yearly festival cancellation comes as scores of community organizations and businesses have to deal with the continuing impact of COVID-19 on their activities and events. From restaurants to realtors, local businesses have scrambled to devise workarounds and survival tactics in the face of the state of Minnesota’s ever-changing general coronavirus quarantine measures.

Scott Carlson is managing editor of the Bugle.

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