2020 Jasper Strassenfest canceled

Herald file photo by Kaiti Sullivan


JASPER — The fest is officially off.

Citing health and safety concerns, Jasper Strassenfest leadership announced Tuesday that the long-running street festival will not take over the downtown area in late July and early August.

“While we know that this will be a major disappointment to a lot of people, the group as a whole felt that this was the right decision to make to protect the health and well-being of not only the citizens of Jasper and Dubois County, but also the many volunteers that operate the various booths and events, as well as thousands of potential out-of-town visitors,” a press release reads.

The move to ultimately nix this year’s iteration came after a Strassenfest subcommittee met with a long list of local and state officials to share information. After listening and discussing, subcommittee members “felt that it would be nearly impossible to follow and enforce state and federal COVID-19 guidelines while still maintaining the region and statewide reputation, as well as the unique qualities and integrity of the Jasper Strassenfest,” the release reads.

An annual, family-oriented magnet that attracts an estimated 35,000 attendees, the four-day celebration was set to run from July 30 to Aug. 2.

Kim Lottes, Strassenfest’s chairperson, said in a phone interview that because the event doesn’t have a single entrance or exit, crowd size and social distancing could not be controlled.

“With the location the way that it is on the street, we couldn’t block things off and we couldn’t control what needed to be controlled to keep the public safe,” she explained.

Tuesday’s press release details how the cancellation “was a very difficult decision for the subcommittee to make due to the fact that the Jasper Strassenfest is the largest, and in some cases, the only fundraiser of the year for many of our local, Dubois County nonprofit organizations.”

Festival leadership encouraged residents to consider using the money they would have potentially spent at the Strassenfest to make a donation to the organizations whose food and game booths they would have patronized, or whose events they would have competed in.

“Your donation will go a long way in helping these organizations to be able to continue funding the various local causes which their organizations annually support,” the press release reads.

Selling German food and pastries from booths near the bier garten is the primary annual fundraiser for the Jasper Deutscher Verein. That group will feel the fest’s absence.

“Throughout the year, we work on a variety of things and donate to a variety of things,” explained Van Ziegler, the club’s president. “So, yes, it does impact us.”

Still, he explained that the organization is “stronger than ever,” and members are brainstorming “different possibilities to keep the German interest and the German theme going for the rest of the year.”

Strassenfest’s cancellation will result in cutbacks for the Jasper Jaycees.

The group’s president, Luke Blaize, also said the event is his club’s biggest fundraiser. Members run the popular bier garten that is filled with conversation and live music.

“For us, it gives us the money to be able to monetarily donate and give back to the community,” Blaize said. “So, the impact is going to be that we’re going to have to cut back on some of that.”

Plans to renovate the Jaycees’ clubhouse have been put on hold. The organization plans to look into hosting a gathering later this year, and an annual golf scramble is scheduled to take place on Oct. 11.

The Strassenfest now joins other area festivals — such as the Celestine Streefest and the Dubois County 4-H Fair (although the fair will now be held virtually) — that have decided to cancel their summer activities. Next year’s Strassenfest is set to take place in and around downtown Jasper from Aug. 5 through 8.

“It was a heartbreaking decision to make, for the committee, in general,” Lottes said of this year’s cancellation. “But we really felt that to save the integrity of the Strassenfest and keep everyone safe, it was the right decision.”

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