There have been high hopes for 2021 and as vaccines are distributed the anticipation ramps up that places will open up and events will continue once again. The Riverbank Cheese and Wine Festival for 2021 was discussed at the Riverbank City Council meeting last week where City staff received direction to move forward with plans to proceed with the event the second weekend in October.
“I feel great that we can move forward with the planning,” stated Parks and Recreation Director Sue Fitzpatrick. “We do have enough time but have to start right away. I just hope things continue to improve with the COVID situation so we will not have to cancel later.”
With the positive improvements over the past few weeks regarding the virus and city staff doing research in other jurisdictions, it was concluded unanimously that plans should begin for the event to return on Oct. 9 and 10. City Manager Sean Scully advised council members during the meeting that other cities are planning to host their events with adjustments. He noted that Oakdale intends to continue with the Rodeo this summer and Chocolate Festival anticipated in early fall, the Stanislaus County Fair is set to resume this July, and the Stockton Asparagus Festival which is usually held in April will be moved to September pending the virus situation.
Last year the city contracted with a new promotion company called SS Consulting to manage the Cheese and Wine but due to COVID the event was canceled for 2020. The City will work with SS Consulting for this year’s event which will include some changes like expanding the area to be able to socially distance and mandatory masks. For about six years the city contracted with Chris Ricci Presents.
Scully advised that in the event there is a drastic change for the worse then the council has the ability to cancel the event once again. If the event is canceled at a later date he added that it would result in a loss of funds but would be minor so the risk is low to continue planning to host the event in October. The council also had the option to cancel the event again this year with the disadvantage of making it difficult to restart the event after being canceled for two years in a row.
The consensus was that the event should continue and that the community should expect it to be a bit different with safety and security being taken into account to have a successful event.