Saturday afternoon at Summerfest, 2019. VOICE PHOTO

Farmers Market sole survivor

Pelham Town Council effectively cancelled the municipality’s summer of 2020 at their regular meeting on Monday evening, May 4.

Citing continued concerns regarding physical distancing, council elected to make the immediate decision to cancel all municipal events through the season.

Gone are Canada Day (to be celebrated as a “virtual” event instead), July’s Summerfest, the ongoing Supper Market, and the ongoing Bandshell concert series.

Mayor Marvin Junkin and Councillor John Wink fought a losing battle to defer cancelling the Bandshell concert series until more information on the fight against COVID-19 was released by provincial and Regional health authorities later in the spring, suggesting that a shorter season that started as late as August might still be feasible.

Councillors Hildebrandt, Haun, and Stewart saw things differently and decided to pull the Bandshell plug immediately.

One Ward 1 seat is vacant with the passing of Councillor Mike Ciolfi. Councillor Ron Kore did not attend the meeting.

In a statement emailed to local media on Tuesday evening by committee member Jim Casson, the Pelham Bandshell Committee said that while they had already cancelled June’s performances, they had hoped to wait for Public Health’s announcement in May on outdoor guidelines before taking further action.

We completely understand the Pelham Town Council decision to cancel the Fonthill Bandshell Concert series for 2020,” read the statement.

“If Public Health deems it possible to hold a Thursday evening event later this summer season, one where we all feel the safety of our patrons is assured, our group has let Town staff, Mayor Marvin Junkin and councillors know we will work with Public Health to find a way to bring the community together in a safe environment for our volunteers and the public alike.”

Musician Michael Kaeshammer in performance at the Bandshell, August 2014. VOICE FILE

The only ongoing event to survive was the weekly Farmers Market at Town Hall, albeit at a reduced number of vendors to help maintain physical distancing. Details are still being worked out, according to Town Communications and Public Relations Specialist Marc MacDonald.

The Thursday Supper Market might yet rise again, depending on whether health authorities revise their distancing guidelines in the coming weeks. MacDonald said that a new staff report would then come back to council for consideration on whether to stay the course or open it up.

“For the safety of our citizens and everyone who comes from out of Town for Summerfest, this was an easy decision,” said Junkin in a Town statement, “but it doesn’t make it any less painful to have to cancel one of the Region’s best summer events. We’re proud of Summerfest and the event it has turned into, but there is no conceivable way that this year’s festival would resemble the Summerfest we know and love.”

This year’s event would have seen the four-day street festival’s tenth anniversary. Decisions about Summerfest in 2021 have not been made.

“I would like to thank all of the committee members for volunteering to sit on the committee and for the hours they have put in to date,” said Summerfest Chair Bill Gibson in the statement.

“For the health of everyone, the committee unanimously supports cancelling this year’s event. Thank you to everyone for their patronage over the last ten years, and we look forward to seeing you next Summerfest.”

2020 Town or Town-involved events cancelled due to COVID-19

  • April 2-4 – Kinsmen Home and Garden Show
  • April 11 – Annual Easter Egg Hunt
  • May 7-10 – Pelham Art Festival
  • May 22-24 – Fenwick Lions Carnival and Parade
  • Mid-June to September – Pelham Supper Market
  • Mid-June to September – Bandshell concerts
  • June 14 – Shorthills Strawberry Festival
  • July 1  – Canada Celebration – (Virtual celebration to commence)
  • July 16-19 – Pelham Summerfest


UPDATED: May 5, 11:30 PM, statement from Bandshell Committee

UPDATED: May 6, 12 PM, full list of cancelled events