Spanish Fork city officials are gearing up to host the city’s annual Fiesta Days celebration this month as statewide COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates continue to climb.
Fiesta Days will kick off on Saturday with a car show, as well as pickleball and softball tournaments, and will run until July 31. The summer celebration also will feature a rodeo, fireworks show, baby contest, Pioneer Day pool party and 10K marathon.
It is one of the few summer celebrations in Utah County that wasn’t canceled in March or April as cities grappled with how to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
Annual celebrations that were canceled in Utah County this year include the Springville World Folkfest, Springville Art City Days and most events of the America’s Freedom Festival in Provo.
The city announced on June 3 that it was moving forward with this year’s festival but that some events would be canceled and that attendees would have to follow certain health guidelines, including wearing masks or other face coverings.
“Deciding to continue with the Fiesta Days Rodeo this year has been a very deliberate and thoughtful process,” City Manager Seth Perrins said in the announcement.
The city’s website lists the Fiesta Days events that were canceled this year, which includes the Grand Parade, carnival, craft fair, outdoor quilt show, children’s parade, adopt-a-duck race and fish rodeo.
“If COVID-19 conditions do change and we go to the low-risk (green) phase, we may consider adding additional events to the schedule,” the website states https://www.spanishfork.org/residents/news_and_events/fiesta_days/index.php.
During a Spanish Fork City Council meeting Tuesday, members of the Fiesta Days Executive Committee thanked the council members and Mayor Steve Leifson for moving forward with this year’s celebration.
“Thank you for hanging in there with us,” said Karen Muhlestein, co-chair of this year’s Fiesta Days committee.
Muhlestein told the city council that “one of the events that we’re really excited about that ... we’re able to have this year too is the fireworks,” which will be shot off at the Spanish Fork Sports Park on July 24 around 10 p.m.
“And they will be bigger shells,” said Muhlestein. “They will shoot higher and bigger so you’re able to maybe stay home and watch the fireworks this year, or if you choose to go to a park we just recommend that you remember social distancing. But we want you to have fun and know that we fought for this, and we’re glad that we’re able to have this event.”
“This is going to be a great experience,” said Rod Nielsen, who will co-chair next year’s Fiesta Days committee. “I just can’t express how nice it is … (to have) all the volunteers that are here in Spanish Fork. It amazes me that there’s that many people that are willing to give up time away from their jobs, (and) their family to support us in this endeavor that we’re going through, especially with this time with the COVID.”
Allyson Nielsen, who will co-chair next year’s committee with Rod Nielsen, her husband, said events like the July 15 baby contest had been adjusted to encourage social distancing.
“This year, because of the COVID, we have spread it out so that people are bringing their children at different times,” Nielsen said, “so that we’re not having everyone show up at the same time and we’re able to do the social distancing.”
The three-week Spanish Fork celebration will take place as the number of COVID-19 cases and rate of hospitalizations continue to rise in Utah and other states.
The Utah Department of Health reported 679 lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, the highest single-day case count since the beginning of the pandemic. There have been 26,033 total COVID-19 cases in Utah so far, resulting in 1,653 hospitalizations and 194 deaths.
2020 Fiesta Days Executive Committee co-chair Clint Muhlestein said he and other committee members took public health seriously and wanted attendees to “remember COVID-19, be prepared, know and understand what you can and can’t do with your families and places you need to be.”
“But we’re happy that we’re able to have these events,” he said.
More information about this year’s Fiesta Days events, including registration information, is available at http://spanishfork.org/residents/news_and_events/fiesta_days.