“We knew months ago this would be challenging, but it did not deter us from making every effort to plan for a successful event,” Williams said in the release.
At the time the numbers were low and new cases were far and few between.
“Unfortunately, things have changed and not for the better. We see numbers of COVID-19 cases rising, the restrictions on businesses increasing and the division of community in regard to compliance,” Williams adds. “We have concerns about contributing in any way towards spreading the virus and our ability to enforce compliance of masks and distancing. With the advice of the Chamber's Board of Directors and the strong support of our festival partners, we have decided to make additional modifications and cancellations,” she said.
The concerts will be held inside in order to live stream them on the Oil Heritage Facebook page. The crowning of the Oil Heritage Festival Queen and front porch winner announcements will also be live streamed.
The Fireworks are still on for 10 p.m. Saturday.
The craft show scheduled for Saturday and Sunday in Town Square Park is cancelled. The motorcycle/car show on Sunday is modified to a "Cruise-Through." Participants are invited to drive through the city and stop in front of the Venango Museum on Seneca Street for a photograph that will be posted on the Oil Heritage Facebook page and receive a t-shirt and dash plaque.
Other events scheduled around the Oil Heritage official event are still being planned. The release said "All event organizers have been urged to carefully consider their event and ability to be compliant, and to enforce their protocol. The Chamber will assist them in announcing any modifications or cancellations if changes occur between now and their scheduled event."
“We look forward to celebrating the Oil Heritage Festival every year--to promote our businesses, provide exposure to local entertainers and artists, and hold family friendly activities. All of those things will still happen next week,” Williams said.
As details are confirmed, the Chamber will continue to update the schedule at www.oilheritagefestival.com and will post updates on the Oil Heritage Festival Facebook page.
Originally published 7-11-2020
Next year Oil City turns 150. Susan Williams wants the Oil Heritage Festival event to be as memorable for today's kids as the centennial events were for her 50 years ago.
But the Venango Area Chamber director has this year's COVID-19 modified celebration to get through first.
The uncertainty surrounding the pandemic's effects in Venango County has added an especially unique wrinkle to the planning process for the city's longest running communitywide event. Decisions had to be made about what could be held, and also what should be held.
Williams wants people to have a good time, but admits that for the first time in the 16 years she and her staff have been planning the event, if attendance is low that would be OK. The virus and social distancing requirements from the state are making any event planner a little apprehensive. "My goal is not break attendance records this year, I want people to stay safe," Williams said.
For safety reasons many of the events have been cancelled, but not all. Most of the indoor events were called off with only the art show moving forward this year. Outdoor activities that can accommodate social distancing will still be going on barring a state shutdown before next week. Williams said one regular performer said they are ready and will be there to play, but the parade and pool day as well as the many children's events had to be scrapped to comply with state regulations.
The things that will be held will be modified.
More hand washing stations and routine cleaning have been added to this year's preparations and maintenance schedules. Pre-packaged items will be offered at the ice cream social to cut down on the extra handling of food and aid in the social distancing as people can pick up the treats and go.
Still on the bill is music. Lots of music beginning Wednesday on Town Square with the Porter Huber Quartet. Thursday a small contingent of Mostly Brass will perform before the crowning of the Oil Heritage Festival Queen followed by a performance by the Wyllis Street Band in the Central Plaza.
Friday two bands will take to the half shell in Justus Park. The road bands High Above 80 and Route 8 will perform starting at 5 p.m.
Saturday the long-time area standard Lawyers, Guns and Money will offer up some classic rock in Justus Park as a warm up to the fireworks.
The festival ends Sunday with Seneca Street being closed down for the annual car and bike show.
Planning continues as Williams and her team keep an eye on the COVID-19 situation in Pennsylvania. The schedule will be updated as needed on their website.
"It may continue to change over the next couple of weeks," Williams said.
The best way for the public to stay informed about all the festival's offerings is to visit the chamber's website, https://venangochamber.org/2020-oil-heritage-festival-schedule.
As for next year Williams is hoping COVID-19 is a memory so the chamber can plan big and take aim at breaking attendance records.
About Oil Heritage
This will be the 42nd year of the festival. Through the event, the Venango Chamber of Commerce honors the rich and deep heritage of the oil boom that begin in the mid-1800s that eventually fueled the industrial revolution and modern transportation. "Our region is frequently referred to as “the valley that changed the world,” the chamber website boasts.