Grand Rapids Applebutter Fest canceled for 2020

GRAND RAPIDS, Ohio (WTVG) - The Applebutter Fest draws about 30,000 people to the streets of Grand Rapids each year. But the logistics of hosting the festival, and COVID-19, are why the committee has decided to cancel this year.

April Olman owns the Providence House in Grand Rapids. She says of the festival, "It actually helps keep us open through the winter."

She says COVID-19 has already cut down on her business this year. And now, it's taken a huge source of her revenue.

Olman explains, "It's been a struggle I was closed for almost a little over 9 weeks and then when I did get to open back up I wasn't open full-time just a couple hours here and there."

For 44 years, the festival has drawn tens of thousands of people to the little town. But with an event like this, organizers say it's impossible to keep up with Health Department requirements when it comes to coronavirus.

Chuck Thomas is the co-chair of the group that plans the Applebutter Fest. He tells 13abc, "We're different from things like arenas. There's no entrance or exit. I can't sit and take temperatures of people as they come in because it's kind of a mass in and a mass out."

Thomas says he's been getting ready to meet with the mayor, sheriff and health department to plan out the fest. But before he got too far in, he asked if it should even happen.

"They decided that they thought we shouldn't do it, and we concurred with that because there's a lot of things going on that we can’t handle. We have people come from Columbus Detroit Cleveland Indiana all sorts of different areas in different states so is different situations for everybody."

Thomas hopes that visitors still come out to enjoy the town and shops, which are open year-round. And Olman thinks, come October 11th, front street will still be packed.

"I think that can I still get a lot of people coming down thinking that the Applebutter was going on and coming down here and find it it's not but enjoying the day anyway."

Thomas says that, although the festival is cancelled for 2020, it is expected to go on as normal in 2021.