Dowagiac’s Summer in the City canceled due to pandemic

Published 1:27 pm Thursday, April 30, 2020

DOWAGIAC — A 34-year-old summertime event will not be celebrating its 35th year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thursday, in a message from the Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce, trustees of the chamber of commerce board of directors announced its unanimous decision to cancel this year’s Summer in the City Festival, its oldest and longest-running summertime festival. The decision to cancel the event scheduled for July 17 and 18 was made after a meeting was hosted via zoom on Tuesday.

The festival typically attracts visitors, community members and local craft, commercial and food vendors to Front Street for more than 50 hours of entertainment and activities.

Chamber president Kim MacGregor, of Edward Jones, said the decision was difficult, thoughtful and had been discussed several weeks prior to the meeting.

“We had to weigh a lot of things,” MacGregor said. “First, the enjoyment of the community and what is driving people into shops and to visit all of our wonderful stores, but we also had to think, ‘what about health?’”

MacGregor said the board did not know where the coronavirus situation could be at in July.

“If we made the decision in mid-June, it might be a different decision, but not knowing we just couldn’t possibly commit money and then have to cancel and maybe be out that way,” she said.
The pandemic has also canceled another event — the Dowagiac Mason’s Memorial Day Parade and ceremony hosted outside of City Hall. The ceremony, originally scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on May 25, honors the veterans who served the country. Proceeds from the parade have been donated to Riverside Cemetery for Veterans’ services. The Masons of Peninsular Lodge #10 have hosted the long-standing tradition, which featured a speaker and performances by the Dowagiac Union High School and Kalamazoo bagpipe bands.

MacGregor said the board is hoping to still host Dowagiac’s 30th annual Rod & Roll Classic Auto Show, which is traditionally hosted on the third Saturday of August. Currently, the annual event, which attracts auto enthusiasts to downtown, is scheduled for Aug. 15.

“Our hope is that we will know far enough in advance if we can host the auto show,” she said. “We are keeping our fingers crossed there.”

MacGregor said the board currently has several ideas members are working on to replace the events that have been canceled. However, she said none of those ideas could be shared at this time.

The Dowagiac Downtown Development Authority, host of Dowagiac’s Farm & Artisan Market and Summer Concert Series, has not yet made a determination on the two programs that open in June, according to a newsletter.