HALLOWELL — Old Hallowell Day is scheduled to return Saturday, July 16, after having been canceled the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jane Oberton, chair of the Old Hallowell Day Committee, said the committee has been in contact with doctors on the city’s board of health since the pandemic began in March 2020.

“We heard back from the chair of the board of health, Dr. Sydney Sewall,” Oberton said. “He said all signs looked favorable at this point, so we decided that we would make a decision to go ahead.”

The Hallowell Community Band performs July 21, 2018, while riding down Water Street during the Old Hallowell Day parade. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

A recent Facebook post about the festival’s return has received more than 100 likes and more than 30 shares, with many showing excitement the city’s annual festival is to return.

“Anybody I’ve talked to is looking forward to the parade,” Hallowell Mayor George Lapointe said. “I think it’s a grand thing to have the food and the merriment and fireworks come back.”

The event is almost entirely outdoors, the only possible indoor activity being the cribbage tournament. The committee has yet to establish a location for the tournament, but Oberton said organizers will follow Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention guidelines for all events during the festival.

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“We are very pleased that the Hallowell Community Band has accepted an invitation to be in the parade,” Oberton said. “They are always in the parade, and do a concert afterwards on the lawn at the cotton mill.”

An artist has also made a commitment to create a design for a poster and T-shirt celebrating this year’s festival. Oberton said the design and artist will be kept secret until just before the event.

Committee members said they expect next month to begin active planning of the festival, meeting every two to three weeks leading up to the event. About 35 volunteers are involved in the planning process, and about 100 people are expected to volunteer the day before or day of the event, according to Oberton.

The committee is discussing whether to hold a cornhole tournament instead of the usual bocce tournament. Other than that possible change, the events and activities many associate with Old Hallowell Day, such as fireworks, the arts and crafts festival, a race and the parade, are set to return.

“The classic Old Hallowell Day is coming back,” Oberton said, adding the committee is always looking for new ideas.

She said organizers a couple of years ago added a hill bike ride, which is more of a group ride than a race and has been growing in popularity.

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“People are very pleased,” Oberton said. “It is really Hallowell’s main community event for the summer, and a lot of people who moved away come back for that day. The high school usually has its reunions that weekend. It’s a time when everybody comes back to town.”

Lapointe said the festival’s return is important and exciting news for the city, and many residents have been looking forward to event.

“I think it’s grand,” he said. “People have been hungry for it, and they wanted to wait until it was as safe as it could be. That was the determination made by consultations with the health community. I am looking forward to it.”

Any interested vendors or volunteers should contact the Old Hallowell Day Committee at [email protected]

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