The summer of 2020 will be far less exciting as Birmingham City Commissioners unanimously cancelled the Village Fair and Dream Cruise events at their meeting on Monday, May 18.
The Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce has put on the Village Fair for over 65 years, and it is the organizations biggest annual fundraiser. In debating a new date of July 9-12 for the fair, from its traditional date of the weekend after Memorial Day, commissioners found the only reason to consider possibly approving it was because of its longevity. But in the end, commissioners could not rationalize holding the event without a full operational plan from the fair operator, as well as the potential to expose residents and non-residents alike to the coronavirus.
They also noted the fair would be the only event to move forward as all other events this spring and summer had been cancelled.
“We would need a detailed operational plan before we proceed. This will be rather unique because all our other events have been cancelled this summer. There hasn't been a vaccine developed yet, and that has to be considered,” said city manager Joe Valentine to information from chamber president Joe Bauman, who noted that “by July there could be a whole different set of rules – either more relaxed, or more stringent. Within a few weeks of July 9, we'll sit down with the fair operator, head of DPS, city manager, police chief and make a decision one way or another.”
“Our concern is just safety,” pointed out mayor Pierre Boutros. “It's not just Birmingham residents coming to the fair.”
“Even the most robust mitigation plan that takes temperatures is not always a good indicator. A variety of people will be coming into our community from other states and communities, including carnival workers,” said mayor pro tem Therese Longe.
Commissioners voted 6-0 to cancel the fair for 2020, with Clinton Baller recused as a company he owns does work for the chamber.
Commissioners voted 7-0 to cancel the annual Woodward Dream Cruise event and all promotional activities due to public health and safety concerns attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. Valentine noted that it does not prevent people from driving on the public roads, such as Woodward, but they are encouraging people to stay at home and not to congregate.
Valentine said the Woodward Dream Cruise event is managed through a non-profit corporation, Woodward Dream Cruise, Inc., comprised of community representatives along the Woodward corridor and representatives from Oakland County and private sector media partners. This body has handled the promotion and organization of this multi-community event over the years. He noted other local communities, including Royal Oak, Ferndale, Huntington Woods, Berkley and Pleasant Ridge, are in the process of also cancelling the event.
“What we're trying to do is avoid the crowds of people from other areas of the world, other areas of the state, other areas of the community, to reduce the exposure opportunity to the greatest extent possible. We'll not stop people driving on the roads during the weekends,” Valentine said.
“There's not a police chief I've spoken to who's in support of holding the event this year,” said Birmingham Police Chief Mark Clemence. “From a city perspective, we'll be increasing our paroles.”