Holiday in Homer will return for its 40th celebration in July after the COVID-19 pandemic canceled many in-person events last year.
Not much will change, said organizer Paula Harrington, although some events inside the Homer Congregational Church, like the quilt show and the luncheon, will remain on hiatus.
Food vendors, arts and crafts and selling booths, entertainers and patrons will be asked to follow the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in place at the time, Harrington said. For now, that means social distancing and mask wearing for unvaccinated individuals, but that could change come July.
“It was heartbreaking and a hard decision to make — we’ve been doing this for 40 years and we’ve only had to cancel a show once and that was because of the weather,” Harrington said about canceling the show last year. “We’re excited to be back and give the community something to come out for and to see each other.”
Organizers decided in February they would host Holiday in Homer, regardless of the needed modifications, Harrington said. Vendor applications were sent out and the event is about 80% full.
What: Holiday in Homer
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 17
Where: Church Green, downtown Homer
“We’re not limiting vendors,” Harrington said. “A lot of people have been vendors with us from the very beginning — we have people who have been vendors for 40 years.”
The money raised will help the Homer Congregational Church fund three scholarships for high school seniors and fund missionary work within Homer, Harrington said.
The event, which usually happens the same weekend as high school reunions, brings hundreds of people into Homer, new and old, Harrington said. People can filter through the venue, shop at businesses and dine at eateries.
“Holiday in Homer is a wonderful event for the village of Homer — as far as traffic in our store, we do see people who are visiting their families and many out-of-towners,” said Renee Neiderman, owner of Bev & Company on Main Street. “We love seeing everyone and love what the event stands for.”
The effect of Holiday in Homer is immediate, said Jim Hopkins, president of the Homer Business Association.
“Even if someone comes in to enjoy the wide variety of great events and displays that the Holiday of Homer has but doesn’t stop at local businesses, they might realize it’s there and stop in when that business is a means of need,” Hopkins said. “Anything that gives people the opportunity to experience the atmosphere here is going to lead to a positive impact for business.”
On average, there are anywhere from 100 to 150 people wandering over the Green, Hopkins said.
The night before, out-of-town vendors, entertainers and families come to set up and prepare for the event. Usually, they’ll stop at restaurants, spend a night in a hotel or do some shopping.
“It might not be a huge thing, but it’s not necessarily the one thing that gets canceled that makes the impact,” Hopkins said. “It’s an entire economy and country shut down by a pandemic.”