Montcalm County and Ionia County, Michigan
By Cory Smith | on April 02, 2021
GREENVILLE — When it comes to planning a festival that welcomes thousands of visitors into the community, a pandemic involving a virus that spreads person-to-person with ease brings any plans for a “normal” celebration to a halt.
Event organizers are hopeful traditional Danish Festival elements including the Grand Dansk Parade will return for this year’s festival amid coronavirus restrictions. — DN file photo
Despite last year’s Greenville Danish Festival being canceled, event organizers are more hopeful that this year, some traditional elements of the festival may be able to be held.
New Danish Festival Executive Director Kristen Videan has only been on the job for two weeks, but the message she is promoting to the public is one of hope.
“This year at least, I feel like we are more prepared. We know what we are looking at. Whereas last year, with everything happening so suddenly with COVID-19, they had no idea what they could do,” she said.
Videan is setting her sights high on bringing back many of the festival’s traditional events, including the Grand Dansk Parade, Downtown Artisan Fair & Boutique, Tivoli Beer Gardens and more.
“I’m hoping we can do all of the parades — that’s one of my big goals — and I think that we should be able to as long as we do social distancing and follow all of the protocols,” she said. “We also really want to do the Downtown Artisan Fair & Boutique along with vendors at the Women’s Action Network (WAN) Marketplace & Food Court. With spacing out booths and doing our part to say ‘please wear a mask, do your social distancing, do the most you can to keep people safe,’ we think we can bring these events back.”
Danish Festival Board of Directors President Andrea Krause said whatever shape the festival takes this year, it will be held in a “safe” way.
“The whole board is working hard to bring a safe and exciting Danish Festival to Greenville this summer,” Krause said. “We are moving forward with plans to host all the familiar events like the Downtown Artisan Boutique, the WAN/DF Veteran’s Park, Tivoli Gardens, the Main Stage Entertainment and the all-time favorite Grand Dansk Parade.”
Anyone is interested in volunteering with the festival this year may contact Videan via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Videan noted the majority of events at the festival are held outdoors, which is deemed safer by health experts as opposed to holding events that would see people gather indoors. As a result, Videan also expects the Miss Danish Festival Scholarship Pageant to return this year, but to be held outdoors.
Additionally, Videan is hoping to establish some new events, such as a fireworks show, as well as bring back other events that were introduced last year when the majority of the festival was canceled, including the porch parade and drive-in movie.
“Hopefully the rules change in our favor going forward because right now we’re limited to about 300 people at events,” she said. “Hopefully going forward we’ll be able to have more of a normal festival. We’d love to do fireworks this year as a new event, and with that, we believe it would be socially distanced as long as people do their own due diligence.”
In the event state-mandated restrictions make it impractical to hold large events such as the Grand Dansk Parade and Downtown Artisan Fair & Boutique, Videan said plans are being created for a “plan B.”
“We’re trying to put together alternate plans, and in that situation, it would kind of look more like last year’s festival if we go to a plan B, but with hopefully a few more events than last year,” she said.
Videan confirmed that one event that will not be returning this year is the variety of children’s events that take place when Tower Riverside Park transforms into Hans Christian Andersen Park.
“We won’t be able to do that this year,” she said. “Instead we’re hoping to have a children’s area downtown where they can do take-home activities.”
Having most recently worked as the catering and events manager at Candlestone Golf & Resort in Belding, Videan said working that job throughout the pandemic has left her well prepared mentally in trying to bring back traditional elements of the Danish Festival this year.
“At Candlestone, COVID-19 brought a lot of changes to my position,” she said. “If I learned anything, it’s that I’m ready to adapt.”
With five months to continue planning and COVID-19 requirements and restrictions ever-changing, Videan said no commitments on events are being made at this time, but she and the board will continue to plan and operate as if the major events of the festival will take place this year.
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