By Scott Kroepel
Near North Now:
Well, plans for the Tulip Festival never bloomed, Electric Forest has already pulled the plug and there won’t be any pit spitting contests happening in TC with the Cherry Festival unable to come to fruition this year.
And now one of the best loved local summer celebrations has become the latest casualty of COVID 19, the pandemic blamed for wreaking havoc on an ever growing number of spring and summer festivities.
We asked Hesperian historian Scott Kroepel to provide bit of perspective on what looks to be a much quieter 4th in Hesperia and he also shared some intriguing photos of past celebrations.
For the first time in nearly three decades, Hesperia’s downtown streets, parks, and skies will be silent on the 4th of July. The Hesperia Chamber of Commerce, who hosts the annual event, made the tough decision to cancel the 2020 Hesperia FunFest due to the ongoing Covid-19 concerns, and the probability that large gatherings will continue to remain discouraged throughout the summer months.
On the Chamber’s Facebook page, President Scott Rumsey wrote “Our board also considered the difficulty we might have in fund raising for the 2020 fireworks. While we had a balance in our fireworks fund left from last year, we feel it would be unreasonable to ask local businesses to donate to this year’s event considering many of them have been closed due to the current state order.”
Hesperia has a long history of Independence Day celebrations. The earliest known event was discovered from a poster found in the basement of the local bank, dating back to 1885. And from a photo of a balloon ascension at Webster Park, printed in the 1966 Hesperia Centennial Book, dating back to the early 1900’s. Hesperia hosted an annual Free Fair from 1949-1978. Governor G. Mennen “Soapy” Williams was a speaker in the late 1950’s, and it’s carnival rides and games drew crowds from all around. The Hesperia FunFest was formed in the early 1980’s, known for its Art Fair, Parade, Street Bands, Horse Pulls and Fireworks, among other events for all ages.
Hesperia recently celebrated its Sesquicentennial in 2016, with events throughout the summer, in conjunction with the annual FunFest.
President Rumsey continued, “Our board is currently working on the possibility of some type of community event that might be held in the fall. We are hopeful that things will return to something closer to normal by the end of summer, and a gathering of our community would be welcomed by all as we all look forward to putting this pandemic behind us.“