Another summertime event on the Kenai Peninsula has been canceled due to the threat of COVID-19. This time, it’s the annual Kenai River Festival.
The Kenai Watershed Forum, which organizes the event every year, announced the decision Wednesday. The event had been scheduled for June 12 to 14 at Soldotna Creek Park.
“The decision to cancel reflects our organizational values of community and partnerships and prioritizes the health of our families, friends and neighbors throughout Alaska,” the Watershed Forum said in its press release. “We will continue to work together to flatten the curve and protect the things we hold most dear.”
Brandon Bornemann, executive director for the Kenai Watershed Forum, said Wednesday that the decision to cancel the event was not made lightly.
“It was a very hard decision,” Bornemann said. “But I don’t want people to think that the Watershed Forum is in trouble or that the Kenai River Festival is going away. We want to be around for many more years to come.”
This would have been the 29th year for the event, which traditionally brings hundreds of people to Soldotna Creek Park to browse handmade products from local artisans, eat food from local vendors and participate in activities centered around environmental education.
Last year’s event featured a petting zoo, kids games, live music and the release of a juvenile bald eagle back into the wild that had spent a year in rehabilitation at the Bird Treatment and Learning Center in Anchorage.
Bornemann said Wednesday that the organization is looking at other opportunities for educational outreach that can be done while respecting the social distancing mandated by the state.
“Education is a big part of our mission, so we are on the lookout for ways to adapt and be flexible while still providing that education,” Bornemann said. “We’ve got some irons in the fire and our eyes on the future.”
With the cancellation of this year’s event, the staff and board of directors for the Watershed Forum will be shifting their focus to planning the event for 2021, according to the release. Next year will be the Kenai River Festival’s 30th anniversary, and the event is scheduled for June 11 to 13 of 2021.
The Watershed Forum will be working to provide refunds to partners and supporters who had already made commitments for this year’s festival.
For more information on the Kenai Watershed Forum, visit www.kenaiwatershed.org.
The cancellation of the Kenai River Festival adds to a spring and summer that is looking very different for peninsula residents.
The Kenai Peninsula Sport, Rec and Trade Show, which was to be May 1 to 3 at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex, was canceled. The Kenai Peninsula Builders Association Home Show has been postponed to Sept. 12 and 13 at the sports complex.
The Peninsula Oilers have pulled out of the Alaska Baseball League for 2020, while Seward’s Mount Marathon Race will not be held July 4. The date of the race — either Sept. 6 or July 4, 2021 — will be announced June 1.