Wilton Blueberry Festival Chairwoman Shannon Chase Smith and state Rep. Scott Landry of Farmington greet each other at the 2019 festival. Pam Harnden/ Livermore Falls Advertiser file photo

WILTON — For the second year in a row, the Wilton Blueberry Festival has been forced to shelve the event because of COVID-19 restrictions, the board has announced in an email.

“It is with profound sadness the Wilton Blueberry Festival Board of Directors announce the cancellation of the 38th Wilton Blueberry Festival,” the board wrote in an email. “This decision was not easy, as much thought was used when assessing the (Center for Disease Control) COVID-19 guidelines which remain in place today. It is impossible to manage the restrictions within a public setting.”

“We’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t,” Chairwoman Shannon Chase Smith said in a phone interview. “People aren’t paying attention to everything that’s being said.”

Smith, who is retiring this year as chairwoman after 30 years, said even though CDC restrictions ease May 24, 6-foot social distancing will still need to be maintained.

The CDC also recommends no parades be held in Maine this year, although that information hasn’t been sent yet, she said.

“We can’t keep doing this (waiting for information),” she said. “We’ve got $8,000 committed, I don’t want to lose that.”

“A full refund will be initiated to those who made contributions in 2020,” according to the email.

“I’m glad I had a committee to talk to and it wasn’t a one-person decision,” Smith said. “I don’t do it alone, a lot of people help. It wasn’t easy to make the decision, it breaks my heart.”

“If we did have the festival, everybody would come,” she noted. “There would be more people than ever.”

Not wanting the responsibility should something happen was a factor in the decision, Smith said.

“We’re doing the best we can,” she said. “There are still too many unknowns.”

The email also announced her retirement after ending her commitments.

“It wasn’t the way I intended to finish up my 30th year,” Smith said. She announced in January 2020 she would be stepping down at the end of that year. Because the festival was postponed last year she agreed to stay on to complete the plans already in place for this year.

“I’ll enjoy Dummer’s Beach with my grandson and family,” Smith said, but admits there will be a void even though she’ll still be involved.

“The community is my life,” she said. “I’m blessed to have had the community support I’ve had over the years.”

Those with questions should contact Smith at 207-778-4726 or [email protected]

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