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Village Venture postponed this fall

by Mick Rhodes | mickrhodes@claremont-courier.com

The Claremont Chamber of Commerce this week announced the postponement of the 2020 Village Venture.

“The safety of our vendors, participants and guests has forced us to look at a future time to hold the event when we can do so safely and with the approval of LA County,” said Chamber Executive Director Randy Lopez. “At this time, current Covid-19 pandemic restrictions prevent us from pulling the necessary permits required to produce this annual event. Our hope is to hold this event as soon as possible, hopefully before October 2021.”

Mr. Lopez delayed making the announcement, holding out hope that something might shift with respect to the pandemic.

“We wanted to see what the openings, re-openings and the changes going on with the stages, if there was any chance that we could have it,” Mr. Lopez said. “It means a lot to the artists, and it means a lot to the community, so I really wanted to make sure that we didn’t cancel it prematurely. If there was a chance that we could have it I definitely wanted to try.”

If state and county coronavirus numbers improve enough, the Venture could take place in the spring.

“If things open up and it’s safe and things change we definitely will look at that as an option,” Mr. Lopez said. “There are a lot of logistics. We had over 470 vendors last year. With that many vendors and volunteers and resources and permitting, it does take a few months to put together. We really need some time to make sure that we do it right.”

The Venture is a late October Claremont tradition. This year would have been the 39th annual.

Chamber representatives had been exploring the possibilities of moving it to a different venue or presenting it online.

“But to really keep it true to itself the idea is to postpone it and if there’s a chance that we can have in say possibly spring, then we’d like to do that,” Mr. Lopez said.

Like any outdoor gathering during the pandemic, crowd size and proximity are the primary concerns. Last year’s Venture brought in about 20,000 festival goers and 475 vendors.

“Unfortunately, it’s such a large event, and still with the pandemic, there’s really no chance with social distancing to be able to accommodate the amount of people that come through,” Mr. Lopez said. “And what we would probably have to do it even if we were able to get permission, what it would look like would be so different that we felt it was best to just wait.”

Village Venture is also the Chamber’s primary source of funding. Last year it brought in more than $70,000, representing about 80 percent of its operating budget. Mr. Lopez said he will press on regardless.

“That’s what keeps me up and night, to be sure that we’re able to continue doing this and be a part of the community,” Mr. Lopez said. “That’s definitely a hit, and like every other business and organization it’s had a huge effect. It’s our fundraiser for the year, with that and the loss of other funding, it is a bit of a perfect storm.

“We’ll survive this. We’ll get through this. Things may look a little different but we’ll get through this.”

Mr. Lopez said he wasn’t aware of another Venture that had been cancelled over the last 38 years. “Someone mentioned that we’ve had fires where there’s been ash falling down on the vendor booths, and weather, with rain, but as we all know, we’ve never seen anything like this before with the pandemic and the closures.”

In the meantime the Chamber will in the coming days be announcing plans for a citywide “scarecrow festival” in October that will involve local businesses and organizations building, decorating and displaying themed scarecrows.

“It’s going to be a fun event for the city,” Mr. Lopez said. “It’s something for us just to have some fun and have a nice community event.”

For Village Venture updates, check the COURIER or follow @village_venture on Instagram or @VillageVenture on Facebook.

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