The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has claimed another victim.
Barn Fest, put on each year by the Newlyn Quest Club of Bryan, is canceled. It had been scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 26.
Since 1977, Barn Fest, which was held at the MacDonald- Ruff Ice Arena, was a fall staple for Bryan, Williams County and beyond. The event annually featured several dozen craft vendors, live music and homemade goodies, including pot vegetable beef soup slow cooked in a large iron pot.
But Barn Fest chairpersons Coleen Smith and Kate Keel said in a press release Monday that Newlyn Quest Club members, after what they termed “careful consideration,” determined the COVID-19 pandemic “poses too many concerns for the health and safety of Bryan residents, volunteers, vendors and guests.”
“It’s a heartbreaking decision,” Smith told The Bryan Times Monday. “We had discussed this all summer. The majority of the (Newlyn Quest Club) members felt the safety of the community was paramount.”
Barn Fest was a major fundraiser for Newlyn Quest Club, and raised $14,000 at last year’s event, with the funds distributed to 35 area organizations and causes. Smith said the amount was the highest single-year total the event has raised through admissions and food sales since its inception.
Smith said the Newlyn Quest Club, which currently numbers 24 members, has always taken pride in giving back to the Bryan community, and club members understand canceling Barn Fest places a financial hardship on many of the nonprofit groups, youth organizations and vendors that have benefitted from revenue in years past.
However, Smith said club members had to consider the state directives on social distancing and restrictions on the number of people allowed in enclosed spaces, the way the event was enclosed in one area, and the fact the event is organized and managed by volunteers.
“We felt like it was the only responsible decision to make,” said Smith.
The club plans to stage Barn Fest next year.
“We are grateful for all the ways Barn Fest has allowed us to contribute to our community and are looking forward to restoring the Barn Fest tradition in 2021. Until then we will work diligently to find new and innovative ways to support those affected by this,” the press release said.
Smith suggested those who would like to make a free-will donation in honor of the many organizations that Barn Fest has supported throughout the years can do so at Farmers & Merchants State Bank, in care of Newlyn Quest, or through Venmo @Newlyn-Quest.
For more information on Barn Fest, email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.