No Ogdensburg Seaway Festival this year

WWNY Seaway Festival canceled

OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - COVID-19 has forced another summer tradition in the north country to the sidelines.

The Ogdensburg Seaway Festival - and its huge, hours long festival parade - has been canceled for 2020.

This would have been the festival’s 60th year.

Not surprisingly, the decision to cancel was difficult.

“It was heartbreaking. There are a lot of people that have families that come home for reunion. They come home for homecoming," said Laurel Roethel, festival co-chair.

Roethel said organizers learned Wednesday that vendors and volunteers would have to get tested for COVID-19, at a steep cost to the festival.

“If I have to do 100 volunteers at $350, that’s $35,000," she said.

That's on top of other coronavirus requirements the festival would have had to follow and pay for.

Those include maintaining proper spacing, screening people in attendance, and having hand sanitizing stations and protective equipment

There’s no good news in any of this - canceling the festival means city businesses take a huge financial hit.

“Usually the Seaway Festival brings in hundreds of thousands of dollars," Roethel said.

Besides the parade, key events like the battle of the bands and concerts in the park have been called off.

And according to Roethel, border restrictions with Canada that could extend to July 21-st are a part of what’ stopped the parade.

“We got calls from the Shriners in Ottawa, and they were very upset they couldn’t come. We couldn’t get the bagpipers, they couldn’t come,” she said.

But Roethel says there are a couple of events still going on this year.

The Frederic Remington Art Museum will be doing a drive up barbecue.

And the Alexandria Bay Poker Run boats will still make a stop in Ogdensburg.

Roethel says organizers plan to celebrate the festival’s 60th anniversary next year..

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