by Heidi L. Everett
For the second year in a row, the streets of St. Joseph will be quieter July 3. JoeTown Rocks has been cancelled again as a COVID-19 safety precaution.
“Festival leadership got together, and everybody got their turn to speak,” said Bruce Bechtold, event co-chair for the annual Church of St. Joseph parish festival. “Unanimously, everybody said we should postpone out of safety precautions for the community.”
The decision was further solidified by a letter from Donald Kettler, bishop of the Diocese of St. Cloud, stating festivals and other parish festivals remain prohibited. The letter, dated March 19, noted, “These gatherings can be wonderful community-building and fundraising opportunities. I remain concerned, however, about the threat of COVID-19 that still looms over our communities.”
The cancellation includes the live concert and festival which bring in thousands of participants for the music, food and games each year. The July 4 parade, which coincides with JoeTown Rocks, is run by the St. Joseph Lions Club; the fate of that event will be discussed April 16. The St. Joseph Convention and Visitors Bureau is exploring other options, and a decision on fireworks has not been made at this time.
“We love to help our businesses in town, but we don’t want to bring illness to our town either,” Bechtold said.
Festival leadership was concerned about monitoring capacity, Bechtold said, ensuring masks are worn and people are social distanced. He said they were also concerned about having enough volunteers if people didn’t feel safe.
“The safest bet was to just cancel,” he said.
The quilt auction will be online again. The raffle also will continue online.
“We put our typical church auction on steroids last year,” Bechtold said. “We’re going to do that again. It’ll be a big raffle this year.”
The Church of St. Joseph also will participate in the St. Joseph citywide garage sale.
“Last year, we didn’t think we’d be having this conversation again this year,” Bechtold said. “We hope to God we can do it next year.”