By editorial board • 

Celebrating summer on hold for now

It’s the time of year the News-Register Editorial Board likes to promote the importance of our summer community festivals. To quote from a few past editorials:

“Creating a crescendo of community spirit is a fulfilling act, which is why our area supports so many long-running and successful events.”

“Old-timers run into old classmates they rarely see and newer residents get an introduction to a broad segment of the ... population as a whole.”

“This may be a tight-knit county, compared to many, but attending various summer festivals can make you feel like a tourist, even though you’re just 20 minutes from home.”

And so on. 

It all starts this weekend with Sheridan’s ... except it doesn’t; not this year.

Sadly, the summer of 2020 will be without Turkey Rama, Derby Days, Fun Days, Hometown Days, the Old Fashioned Festival, the Old Timers’ Festival, annual 4th of July celebrations and the grand end-of-summer blowout — Oregon’s oldest county fair.

For many locals, the absence of social gatherings like food and drink festivities, heritage events, music concerts and arts and entertainment outings has been a difficult pill to swallow during the COVID-19 pandemic.

That makes loss of community festivals this summer — though completely understandable, given the risks of spreading the novel coronavirus in explosive fashion — even more disheartening. And the timing couldn’t be worse.

The rancorous division and partisanship at the national level seems to reflect increasing infected relationships at the local level. It’s being fueled by social media, where users find comfort in echo chambers and resort to hurling barbs in venues where ideas are mixed.

The homegrown festivals offer an opportunity for locals and nearby visitors of all walks of life to celebrate the differences of each shared community. And we all could use a dose of that right now. 

Perhaps one silver lining is that a summer off will allow organizers a chance to reassess.

Festivals take truckloads of volunteer time, and efforts have become increasingly difficult when so many new traditions and events have sprung up since the advent of the 21st century. Hopefully, organizers both new and old can enjoy a breather and return in 2021 with revived fervor.

The flip side is the danger posed by waning interest. Locals who have donated so much time year after year could find it’s the right time to step aside. And it’s unknown if a new crop of leaders would emerge to continue. 

Losing our shared sense of place would be detrimental to Yamhill County. While we can’t physically seek that out this summer festival season, we must keep it at heart while waiting for next year.



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