RARITAN, NJ - The annual St. Ann Festa has officially been canceled for 2020.
Originally, the event had been moved from June 10 through June 13, to Aug. 26 through Aug. 29. The Italian festival usually features rides, carnival games, homemade food including the famous Pizzelle and much more.
“We thought we would have a better picture of the pandemic,” said Jim Wilson, one of the organizers. “But we have some significant concerns.”
Wilson said the St. Ann footprint for the Festa cannot accommodate the appropriate social distancing. He said the event averages about 2,000 people per night, and the activity is focused within the school parking lot, which is not big enough to allow for the 6-foot distance between families.
“Due to town restrictions, we can only serve beer and wine in a restricted area under a circus tent,” he said. “Normally the tent is shoulder to shoulder.”
In addition, Wilson said, with meat prices going up, they would need to raise prices across the board, which may not be received well.
“Our volunteers also fall into the at risk category due to their ages,” he said.
Wilson said a fair amount of the income for the event is from sponsors and 50/50 drawings. With everything going on due to coronavirus, he said, the assumption is that disposable funds from businesses will be scarce.
And of course, Wilson said, the governor is still not allowing any amusement rides, as per executive order.
The Festa is expected to return in 2021.
“Safety is the primary concern for all the participants,” Wilson said.