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Hogeye Festival canceled for 2020

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    Priscilla the Pig, wearing a face covering, sits at the front window of Firewild Events & Catering on Main Street. Photo by Julianne Hodges

Although the uncertainty of the future of the COVID-19 pandemic has made it impossible for the annual Hogeye Festival to be held in person this fall, the Main Street Board plans to maintain the spirit of the festival by continuing to promote and support downtown Elgin.

Last week, the Hogeye Festival announced that this year’s in-person event would not be happening. Theresa McShan, the vice president of the Elgin Main Street Board, said that it would be difficult to follow the current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to mitigate the virus’ spread while hosting the Hogeye Festival.

“With the thousands of people who come to the festival every year, it would be very difficult for us to follow those guidelines,” McShan said.

Planning for a festival like Hogeye begins months ahead of time, and McShan said they would be starting that process for this year’s Hogeye Festival right now.

“We don’t know what October is going to look like,” she said. “It just really was not feasible. It was not a prudent thing to have the festival, knowing that we have those stipulations and those guidelines and we could not guarantee that we could do that.”

Instead, McShan said they are currently working on plans to sell Hogeye t-shirts and face masks, seek sponsorships and promote the downtown Elgin area in spite of the canceled festival.

“The choice was to not have an in-person festival, but to promote 2021 … and focus on our downtown businesses,” she said, “and make sure that we are promoting them for people to come and still visit at their own leisure, but not to have a full-blown festival where we have anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 people at a time.”

McShan said that canceling this year’s Hogeye Festival was a difficult decision to make.

“It’s just an unfortunate time,” she said. “It was a decision that we had to make, because safety comes before anything else. We hope and pray that in 2021, we will be able to be back in person again and have a wonderful Hogeye Festival at that time.”