Summer concerts, rodeo, Summerfest canceled

SWARTZ CREEK — The COVID-19 virus has claimed another summertime tradition in the Swartz Creek community.

The Swartz Creek Fine Arts Association announced Wednesday that the Tuesday night summer concert series is canceled for 2020.

The open-air concerts at the Pajtas Theater have been a mainstay of free entertainment for 35 years. The 2020 season was scheduled to commence June 19 with the Regulators taking the stage.

“The Fine Arts board has voted unanimously to pull the plug on the 2020 concert series due to the coronavirus,” said President Dave Spillane. “We are making phone calls to rebook the exact lineup for a year from now. But we will be making contact with sponsors, members, all those who have an interest in this year’s series already, to discuss where we are and what options we have with them for carrying on for the next year.”

Spillane said it was a difficult decision, but no one wanted to risk the association’s reputation by not being cautious.

“Having so many unknowns and misconceptions about the virus, we just all felt it was a necessary choice,” Spillane said. “We followed the other communities, looking at what the others were doing around us, and we seemed to be the last holdout on making this decision. We have to err on the side of caution.”

The decision follows the cancellation of both the Hometown Days Festival and the Gaines Community Rodeo.

“Canceling this year’s event was not an easy decision to make,” said Brian Wendt, rodeo coordinator. “There was much debate trying to project what it would look like in July. But ultimately, without a crystal ball, we chose to cancel in order to look out for the safety of our loyal spectators, rodeo contestants, and of course, our volunteers, many of whom are in that ‘at-risk’ age group. It’s very unfortunate that we must cancel this year. But we will ride again in 2021!”

Thursday, the Barons Motorcycle Club announced via social media that they had canceled their Summerfest, but promised to return “in full force” in 2021. Club members say they hope to host some smaller get-togethers later in the summer.

As of press time, no decisions had yet been made regarding the Family Movie Night season or the giant slip-and-slide.

Family Movie Night was set to begin June 11; however, the first movie had to be canceled after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended the Stay Home, Stay Safe order through June 12.

“We will take it as it goes,” said City Manager Adam Zettel. “There is a possibility of rescheduling. If we have good weather into the fall, we will try to get the movies in. Even if there’s just one show, that’s better than nothing.”

The Swartz Creek Downtown Development Authority and Swartz Creek Area Firefighters Inc. sponsor the movies under the stars. The DDA last year invested in an inflatable movie screen, and members of both organizations are looking forward to hosting the movies at different venues around town this summer.

In addition, the Kiwanis Club of Swartz Creek remains hopeful that Art in the Park will go on as scheduled Aug. 29 at Elms Park. President Robert Kowalski said the club will wait until Aug. 1 to make a decision.

Also, the Back to the Bricks Tune- Up party remains on the calendar for Tuesday, Aug. 4, in downtown Swartz Creek.