by Mike Knaak
A third craft event will go ahead, although not as big as originally planned, after the event organizer satisfied a majority of St. Joseph City Council members that it will be conducted safely.
The event is planned for Saturday, Sept. 19, on land just east of the Government Center, the location of two earlier events on June 27 and Aug. 1.
At its July 20 meeting, council members asked event organizer Carl Berg to come up with a more detailed plan for a smaller event than he originally proposed and to show the council his Covid-19 preparedness plan.
Berg showed the council members a layout for the event, which was generally the same as the Aug. 1 fair. It showed how Berg planned to control one-way foot traffic, space out vendor booths and positions of hand-washing stations. Vendors and participants must maintain social distancing and will be encouraged to wear masks.
Mayor Rick Schultz suggested for the Sept. 19 event, vendor stands should be set up with more space between them. About 145 people attended the Aug. 1 event, Berg said.
“I don’t want this to become another Effie rodeo,” Schutlz said, referring to a three-day rodeo in that city where the crowd size exceeded public health guidelines, there was no social distancing and people weren’t wearing masks.
Schultz read a letter he received from Millstream Arts Festival organizers opposing the craft event. Millstream organizers canceled their event, scheduled for late September, over Covid-19 concerns and the letter expressed their “concern and frustration” about the council’s approval of the craft event.
Schultz also read his reply to the Millstream organizers, pointing out they did not come to the council for approval and advice.
“The city doesn’t pick winners,” Schultz said. “If Millstream would have come to the council, they would have been treated the same way.”
Berg said the only issue with the Aug. 1 event was there was a wasp nest found in playground equipment near where the crafters were set up.
Schultz raised some questions about parking space, traffic flow and congestion.
Council Member Anne Buckvold said she was worried one infected person might come to the event without a mask and spread the virus and she was worried about an outbreak in St. Joseph right before school starts. She said she was “reluctant” to support the event.
The council approved Berg’s plan on a 4-1 vote with Buckvold voting no.