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How Will Summer And Fall Festival Cancellations Affect Southern Indiana?

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>>UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Production support for NOON EDITION comes from Smithville - fiber, internet, streaming TV, home security and automation in southern Indiana. More information at And from Bloomington Health Foundation - partnering with local organizations and citizens to invest in programs that address our community's health needs. Bloomington Health Foundation - improving health and well-being takes a community. More at 


>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Welcome to NOON EDITION. I'm your host, Bob Zaltsberg, co-hosting with Sara Wittmeyer, WFIU news bureau chief. Today we're talking about local events like festivals and the fact that they've been getting canceled or changed because of the pandemic. And we have four guests with us. Erin Predmore is the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce president and CEO. Judi Epp is the Spencer Pride fundraising director. Diana Choate is Monroe County Fall Festival president, and Elaine Bedel is the Indiana Destination and Development Corporation secretary and CEO. You can follow us on Twitter at @noonedition and you can also send us questions to the show at We're all doing the show remotely, of course. This is the 31st time we've done this show remotely - 31st week in a row. And I have to say, I'm sitting here looking out of my studio - also known as bedroom - window, and I see blue sky and beautiful leaves and it's the perfect Indiana time for fall festival, so I think this is an appropriate show to have today. And I want to turn first - we want to sort of start with a - more of a macro level and go to Elaine Bedel and ask about, you know, the fact that we are in stage five now. Are there some festivals that are starting to ramp up? And what's this whole year meant for, you know, people coming to Indiana? 

>>ELAINE BEDEL: Well, thank you, Bob. Thank you for having me join you today. It's quite an honor to be on your program. And just to kind of look at the macro level, you're correct. We have had an awful lot of festivals that have felt that, because of safety for their volunteers, any employees, as well as all their visitors, that they really can't hold their festival as they would have in previous years, even the ones that had been outside. So it's disappointing because as - again, pointing out, the beauty that we have here in Indiana, particularly in the fall, to not be able to have people come together and enjoy the festivals is heartbreaking. And, you know, they're such a big impact on communities. It's really part of the quality of life of some of our smaller communities around town where, you know, the whole town - the whole little city turns out for a festival and really looks forward to that every year. So that's just kind of the psychological impact, but obviously there's a financial impact as well. When we have to cancel any type of any event, festival or other organized event, there are people who aren't providing their services that normally would. So when you really think about a festival and - you've got anyone who's providing food or providing games, providing any of the other activities that are part of the festival - you know, they're probably little small businesses that kind of make their living doing those types of things. But that doesn't even include the tents you're not renting or the cleanup crew afterwards who gets paid. So there's a big economic impact just in not having it. And then, obviously, when it attracts visitors, be they residents of Indiana from that community or from around the state or visitors from outside the state, they tend to spend money in the community. So, you know, again, the restaurants and the hotels that maybe they would have utilized had the festival been continuing. So it is a big loss and, you know, I don't know too many of them that are trying to continue this year. Obviously, if they are, they're going to have to do it with a very different look to it and really reducing perhaps the number who can attend because of that. But I think people are looking forward to next year and still planning ahead and thinking that, you know, they're going to move forward positively and look to, if they canceled this year, getting back into providing that festival or that gala that organization would would normally do next year. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Elaine, I think I read somewhere this morning that there are 600 festivals in all - when you count up all 92 Indiana counties. Does that sound right? 

>>ELAINE BEDEL: That sounds right. Yes, exactly. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Wow. So that's a - it's a pretty widespread issue. 

>>ELAINE BEDEL: Yeah. Indiana is one of those states that does an awful lot of festivals. And again, to your point, it's beautiful here in the fall, so it's a great time to do it. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: So I want to bring in Erin Predmore and continue with a little broader view of this. So Erin's with the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, she's president and CEO. Monroe County has a ton of festivals it seems like that go on, you know, in the spring, in the summer, in the fall. So what kind of economic impact are you expecting from this? 

>>ERIN PREDMORE: Yeah, well, I would say, Bob, that the - I mean, millions of dollars come into our community every year with those kind of, you know, one-time events, whether it's the Monroe County Fall Festival - we have visitors that come from, you know, surrounding counties to come over for the day and, like you pointed out, enjoy the beautiful weather and the parades and all the different things they can see. We've - it's the same thing with football, you know, IU football season being initially canceled and there was a lot of work done around that to try to get a grasp of the economic impact of a lost weekend of football. So now that it's coming back but we're not going to have - I mean, you know, it's kind of that - we're just not really sure what's going to happen there. But I can tell you that the economic impact locally is pretty significant. It's in the millions of dollars every time we don't have one of those events. And it really does impact our our service industry businesses - our - you know, our hotels and our restaurants. And it trickles down because, for all the money that we spend there, those individuals and employees go and, you know, go to the retail shop next door and buy something, you know, to be able to - you know, a t-shirt or something, and then that person's able to make more money to do something else with. And so it really is an economic driver that we're missing right now in our community. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: It's really a quality of life thing too, isn't it? 

>>ERIN PREDMORE: Oh, it definitely is. I was talking to someone the other day about just missing each other. And I know even just, you know, for our listeners, right when we joined this, you know, call, I was on video and you said to me, oh, it's nice to see you. And I told you you had to return the favor and turn your camera on too, right? 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Right, yeah. 

>>ERIN PREDMORE: So we just miss seeing each other. There's a - there's the shared experiences as a community, there's the memories that you make every year when you go to the same event, and people have it - they plan their entire lives around some of these things whether - you know, Taste of Bloomington's a great example that had to pivot this last year. You know, it's a huge deal for our restaurants and people really do enjoy that event, and so shifting it to a takeout menu and trying to, you know, bring in other people and expand it and - it was just a very different experience. So like you said, there is a quality of life aspect to it that we are missing right now. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Well, Diana, you're - you've said that you've been the president of the Monroe County Fall Festival now for seven years, and that's - that is a really big festival and what you've done - you've had a really big job. So can you talk a little bit just about the festival? You know, I know we're missing out this year, but the history of the festival and what all you've had and how it's - you know, how long it takes to plan that every year. 

>>DIANE CHOATE: Well, I want to thank you, Bob, for inviting me to be on this today because, yes, the canceling of the Monroe County Fall Festival was a big decision. I consulted with the officials of the town of Ellettsville because the town itself is a big supporter of the festival and without their help and support it just wouldn't be possible. The town allows the street department to help us with much of the setup, and it basically takes almost a year. We normally elect new officers in October and I, myself, having done this for several years - I have a certain schedule that I start by, like, in January getting the tents rented and the golf carts rented and making sure that all the committees are filled. We try to get our sponsorship letters sent out because we do provide all of our entertainment for free because we do want to continue this as Morris Enright started it, as a family-oriented festival, and so we want to make it affordable for everyone. Obviously, food trucks - you know, you pay for the food, but at least, you know, families could come and participate in the entertainment and things and be just a fun time to get together. Our festival's always the third weekend in September, and so a lot of class reunions from the area gather and they find an opportunity to, like she was - Erin was saying, see each other and get reacquainted after years of - graduations years ago. Without the local sponsors, the festival wouldn't be possible. In years past, Monroe County truly participated in the support of the festival, and the MCCSC always let their students come over for our education day that we always have on Friday. That's kind of slid by the wayside, so we're trying to work more towards trying to get Monroe County interested in being a part of our Monroe County Fall Festival. Someone suggested, well, let's just change the name Ellettsville Fall Festival. And I said, no, Morris Enright who was the one that I mentored under in helping with the festival - it was always Monroe County Fall Festival, and I feel it needs to stay that way. We just need to get more Monroe County volunteers and more Monroe County sponsors. So, yeah, it has been a big impact. My concern, of course, with not having it one year is that, you know, you might lose your sponsors, but I'm hoping that they'll realize we didn't want to ask them for money, we knew they were strapped just like we were as far as safety and concerns of the people of the community if we tried to have the festival, so. 

>>SARA WITTMEYER: Diana, I want to ask you and Judi - if your planning start so early in the year, are you already out some money for things that you may have booked for the festival that then didn't get to happen in its usual capacity anyway? 

>>DIANE CHOATE: Well, I canceled all of our tents and things like that that we - you know, had - I had reserved because you have to reserve them early. Like you said, there's lots of festivals and if you don't get your - at least get your name in that you want for the certain date, you run a risk of the things you need not being available. We were out, of course, insurance. We continued to have to pay insurance. And so, fortunately - we've been fortunate enough to have a little bit of a reserve, so we were able to, you know, cover those expenses. But, yeah, it is - it's difficult. 

>>SARA WITTMEYER: How about you, Judi, in Spencer? 

>>JUDI EPP: Well, we were out on money, but actually it's more of a lack of income than that we put out money that we lost. We reserved the Tivoli Theatre and we're actually - we've postponed our Pride Week to this week, and so we just moved the date because the theater also had to close for some time and now they're open at a limited capacity. So we're actually using the reservation that we had with them this Saturday and we're holding a limited seating in-person event. But we own our own canopies and tables and chairs, and so we provide those - we don't use them, but we provide those to our vendors - the first 50 vendors, and then we have our own building. So the festival is on the square in Spencer, where we have our storefront. So for us it's more of a lack of income because we didn't have the people coming into the retail space. We didn't - we weren't able to go actually to other festivals - because we go to other festivals and we take some of our retail items and we make a lot of money that way. And so by other festivals having to cancel, that cost us money as well because we couldn't go there and sell things to make money. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: So if you want to join us talking about festivals in Indiana today, you can follow us on Twitter at @noonedition and you can also send questions to I might mention our producer has sent me quite a list of things that have been canceled, so if you are missing the Bloomington Craft Beer Festival, the IU Little 500, Harrisburg Heritage Days, Bloomington Early Music Festival, Limestone Comedy Festival, Arts Fair on the Square, Bloomington Blues and Boogie Woogie Piano Festival, Indiana Toy and Comic Expo, BTown Jazz Fest, 4th Street Festival of the Arts and Crafts, Garlic Fest, Community Art Fair, Stinesville Stone Quarry Festival, and that's just - that's a list that - I'm sure it's not an exhaustive list. So to both Erin and Elaine's points, I mean, these are big losses for communities throughout the state of Indiana. So wanted to ask Elaine to talk about that a little bit. I mean, there are these festivals all over the state. What are some of them that people may not have even - may not have ever heard of? 

>>ELAINE PREDMORE: Well, there's some very large ones around, like the Covered Bridge Festival and the festival that goes down in Evansville and there's some large ones in Fort Wayne. They're - all over the state there's large festivals, and then there's hundreds of small festivals. You know, every small community many times has some kind of a festival to raise money. And that's the other point. You know, sometimes these festivals are there to raise funds for another organization that they're supporting, be it the local fire department or be it at a charitable organization, an arts organization, and that's why the festival's in there to raise funding. And obviously that wasn't there this year, and so there's that - it's just a trickle down effect. You know, it's a bigger economic impact than many - a lot of us - many times a lot of us have thought about. One of the things that was mentioned - some of the expenses that were incurred when things got canceled - hopefully those - and every one of that happened - Diane and Judi as well - were able to make application for a grant from our Arts, Culture and Destination Marketing Organization Grant that was funded with about $10 million of CARES Act funding. Now it's all done, but one of the things that we were helping, particularly with festivals, was - would have been any of their costs incurred because they had to cancel and to replace some of those funds in their coffers. So hopefully they were able to take advantage of that. I know we did have several around the state who were able to and it helps a little bit. But again, if it was a - it's money a lot of times that they needed to raise even to help next year's festival take place. So a big impact. 


>>SARA WITTMEYER: You mentioned the Covered Bridge Festival there, and I just wonder about communities and places that really are built around a festival. Is there a worry at all that, come next year, are they still going to be there without these big festivals? 

>>ERIN PREDMORE: Well, that was one of the reasons why we did the grant was to make sure that the funding could be there so they wouldn't be necessarily out any money this year and that, whatever funds they were planning on spending, they could just divert until next year. So that was the exact thinking that we had - that we wanted to make sure that these festivals could come back in a safer environment and allow the communities to enjoy them again. Some organizations have really tried to pivot and maybe they didn't go away fully. They tried to do something virtually - you know, within your own home celebrate the festival by doing some virtual game or something like that that would just at least keep their interest and let people know that they're still there and trying to do something, and maybe even a little fundraising along those lines as well for their organization. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: You know, on the topic of fundraising, I'm just thinking back to - you know, what good Hoosier hasn't had, you know, fish from some fish fry at a festival event? Or, you know, there's usually some kind of food at a festival event that everybody is just dying to have. So I wanted to ask about the Monroe County Fall Festival. Are there - who was making money or who - what charitable organizations were able to make a little money off of that festival? 

>>DIANE CHOATE: Well, we have food vendors and one of the food vendors is one of the local churches, and they usually have some kind of a - like, one year it was hurricane victims that, you know, had had - needed to restore their homes and things, and so all of their profit was going to go towards those. And so those kind of things, you know, we missed out on this year. We also have an area where we have games and we offer those to all the school groups as a fundraiser and we don't charge them, but anything that they make during the festival will go towards - you know, like the ball team does it and things for their equipment. And so they missed out on any of that funds for this year. And like Sara was saying, we also - I mean, it was Judi I think it was who was talking about getting funds to get started for next year. And so in order for the festival to happen next year, we're going to have to get going and get some fundraising going and some sponsorships. I did try to notify everyone as soon as possible because, like, for the food vendors, you know, their food drops and they haven't been allowed to be places anyway, but I didn't want them to lose out on the opportunity if there was someplace they could go that, if they normally came to our festival, they at least had a chance to make some income somewhere else. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Judi, you've had some virtual events this week with your festival, haven't you? 

>>JUDI EPP: Yes, we do. We've tried to come up with a combination of limited in-person and virtual events. We had - and actually I'm going to back up just a little bit - in between, from the time the pandemic hit to now, we've - we have quarterly volunteer events to keep - because we're a totally volunteer-run organization. So we try to keep the volunteers engaged always, and of course we have our center that needs volunteers to run it. So we have done things like a virtual bingo, and that was surprisingly well-attended and even more surprisingly fun. So things like that seemed to work well. But this week we did - on Tuesday I think it was, we did a virtual event for our youth group and we had a doctor - and I apologize, I don't remember her name, I'm not intimately involved with the youth group - but she spoke and several of the youth and their parents and some other adults attended. They could come in person if they chose. We have a large enough meeting room that people can come in and be socially distanced and wear masks. So we had, I think, a couple of people that came in person and then others that were online. And then we're having a dance party - a virtual dance party Friday night that's happening. And then yesterday, we did dine and donate event, which is where a restaurant will donate a portion of the sales to a non-profit, and the Civilian Brewing Company in Spencer is a huge supporter of ours, as are many businesses there. But yesterday we did that, so we promote to everybody that follows us to go up there and eat, and then they - this year they were very generous, they donated 20% of sales to us. So it helps them, it helps us. And we know that they have outdoor stating, they do carry-out, they will bring the food to your car if you don't even want to go in and pick it up. So we knew that was a very safe thing to recommend to people. And then Saturday, we're holding a fundraiser and that is at the Tivoli and the limit there is 100 people. We haven't sold 100 tickets because people are still afraid, but we're having a 20-minute drag show with one performer, and she will be on stage so she's not near other people, and then we're showing a documentary of the history of the AIDS quilt. And between the drag show and the documentary, we have two speakers that will talk about their personal experiences. So the drag show is in-person only, the speakers will be live streamed on Facebook, and then the documentary will only be shown to the people in the theater. So we're trying to do some things that will still engage people but that people can feel safe participating in. And our retail space is back open. We reopened whenever we were allowed to, but we're only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. And again, masks are required. We have all the protocols in place with sanitizer and plastic shields and everything. But this week, for pride week, we're open every day this week, but then after pride week is over we'll go back to Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We also - to help the vendors that weren't able to come, we have a virtual marketplace. So any vendor that has an online presence, we've linked them to our website so - and the pride activities in the website so people could theoretically shop there online to the vendors. And we've - we didn't lose our sponsors. The sponsors had already paid, and so we were able to offer them other perks instead of the in-person things that we would have. All the virtual events, we've advertised them. But there's a huge hit to the Spencer community. Our town has 2,000 people, but our festival last year drew 5,000 people. That's an incredible boost to the economy of Spencer and the surrounding area, so it's - for many of the merchants in Spencer, it's their biggest day of the year, financially. 

>>SARA WITTMEYER: Yeah. And, Judi, we had a question about pride specifically. Just be - the question is that it's an event to help a vulnerable community feel more connected, and do you feel that you've been able to do that this week as many of the events have been virtual? 

>>JUDI EPP: Well, we're sure trying. Not as much as we could have with the festival because the festival allows people anonymity because there are so many people you can just show up and mill around and we have materials that are passive that people can just take if they don't want to talk to somebody. We have people that are available to talk. So not nearly as we would have been, but at least by doing the things that we feel like we can do safely - by being open and - all week long so anybody can walk in to Unity and talk or pick up the materials, the youth group event - we feel like it's so difficult for the youth right now because many of them we feel like are trapped in an unhealthy, unwelcoming environment. And so even if you have a Zoom meeting, if they're stuck at home with a family that isn't supportive they can't join that meeting and they can't leave and say, I'm going to the park or I'm going to someplace else and show up at the meeting. So we're trying to do what we can to help. Yeah. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Yeah, that was a great question and, you know, it goes back to the whole idea of how these festivals build various communities. Something you said, Judi, reminded me of something I want to ask Erin to expand on a little bit, and that's the intersection of businesses and these nonprofits, the - which include the festivals and the groups that benefit from the festivals. You talked about how Civilian Brewing had stepped up and is doing stuff for your festival. Erin, could you just talk about that intersection of business and nonprofits and how that's been affected by COVID? 

>>ERIN PREDMORE: Certainly, Bob. So one - I was actually talking to one of our members, I guess, earlier this week about some of that support that goes around. So we have, you know, these small businesses that are maybe just two or three employees that really do support the nonprofits in the community and provide a lot of that - whether it's a support for a fundraiser or a - you know, a gift basket or, in this situation, they needed some things sewn, and so they went to Tailored Fit and were able to get some things done for free, and they were happy to help them out. They had the resources and the skills to be able to do it. But you - that story just repeats constantly, you know, kind of as - a safety net for all of our nonprofits are these local businesses that are willing to chip in and give, you know, gift cards or things like that to add that they can raffle off or just help them without any cost. So when you add that together and you've got those nonprofits with their organizational needs and their fundraising needs, the small businesses do - if you have a big festival or a big event, I mean, obviously the hope is that the small business will not only help the nonprofit, but then also maybe get some more customers and things like that in their doors. And so it's a reciprocal type of relationship that can be really beneficial. And then again, I know when things get canceled, then you just stop that reciprocity and things kind of get jammed up a little bit. We have seen our non-profits locally, though, shift to a virtual fundraising model where they've done a lot of their galas or those sort of things where they've still been able to partner with local restaurants, especially to provide meals and things like that. So even though you may not be able to go to the location and do it, you're able to pick up a special dinner and still be eating - quote eating with your friends and people from around the community to support a non-profit. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Yeah, it's just - there's just a big ripple effect that occurs, it seems to me. So I wanted to ask Elaine - you know, we have - we're so close to Brown County here and, you know, we don't have anybody on the show from Nashville today, but just people - forgetting about festivals for a minute, just people who want to come to southern Indiana to look at the leaves or, during the summer, people that wanted to go to different lakes and different regions in the state to take part in outdoor activities. You know, how has COVID affected these tourism destinations? 

>>ELAINE BEDEL: Good question. And, you know, it depends on the destination. When you think about - everyone wanted to do outdoor activities because that was where you were - you were safer than being indoors somewhere. So the Indiana state parks, which is one of the best state parks systems in the country - and you have Brown County State Park right down there - were just busy, busy, busy. And as far as attendance, record-breaking years because people just wanted to take their families, go out, hike, ride bikes, just enjoy the outdoors every way that they could. And so outdoor venues tended to do really well. I mean, even from the camping people. Again, I could take my camper - I'm not - you know, I just, again, have my family with me, I feel safe doing that. And so they were booked solid most times on their campgrounds as well. So if you were an outdoor activity like that, you tended to be almost too busy in some cases. Now, take something, though, like Holiday World and Splashing Safari also down in southern Indiana - you know, they had to deal with all kinds of health issues, so totally different. You know, it wasn't - they had to be careful about people coming in and time - minimizing the number of people who could come in. I don't think they even opened up their water park portion of that entity. So they really had a much reduced opportunity to have the public come in than they normally would have. So they're - the million visitors that normally come in to them and also provide benefit to all of those entities around them obviously didn't happen this year as well. But when you look at other venues, like even some of the retail shops, people were just afraid to go out and go indoors in some of those retail shops that are so popular that people love to come down to Nashville and do those kinds of things, and they just were hesitant to do that. Now, I think the retailers kind of adapted to that and say, hey, I'm going to do all these protocols, and as did the hotels and the restaurants to say, it's safe to come in. Hoosier Hospitality Promise was really focused on helping to educate the public on all the good things that venues were doing, be it a retail store or a restaurant or a hotel, again, to make sure their employees as well as their guests were in a safe and healthy environment, and hopefully people start getting a little more comfortable with that. But I know it was mentioned several times, it's just, for many people, there's a fear. And we don't want people to go out if they really are in that vulnerable group where they feel they can't be be safe. We don't want them to take the risk either, so it's really a tough situation. So it's - that's where the impact is. But again, outdoor activities seem to do well. The restaurants that could have outdoor seating and who could maybe change their their serving practices to, again, be a very safe environment, clean environment, healthy environment - they tend to be - do well as well. When you think of the Huber Winery down in southern Indiana, as well as Hard Truth Hills down the Bloomington area. I think they did very well because they had a lot of outdoor space where people could walk around, sit individually, yet, have the benefits of what they were serving in their restaurants and in their winery and their breweries and things like that. Yeah, I think if there's... 


>>ELAINE BEDEL: Well, I was just going to say, if there's one silver lining to what we've all been going through is the creative thinking of how can we do this in an alternative way? And you know, Judy mentioned many things that they have been doing virtually. You know, an example of that, too, would be Heartland Film Festival. It's going on right now. And all of these new films that were being debuted to a big audience through multiple theaters was the traditional way of doing it. Well, they can't do that this year. So what they're doing is all the films are online. You still, in essence, buy a ticket to watch it, you know, and you've got access to it over a period of time. So they've adapted. And then they - you do have the opportunity to go to two drive-in movie theaters. Well, Contemporary has turned a parking lot into a drive-in movie theater. And then the Tibbs Drive-In Theater are also showing the films. So if you want to get outside and enjoy it that way. So they've really done some creative thinking here, as many organizations have with whatever they're doing. And what we might learn is that that opens up to an even bigger audience than you could have had. If people don't have to physically attend to enjoy something like that, maybe next year, the hybrid way of doing things is a better way. You can still have in-person, but then you can bring in those people who are miles and miles away who would like to enjoy it, but can only do it, can do it virtually then and have that opportunity. So you know, hopefully, we can be as creative as possible now, but then learn from this as we move into the future as to what we might be able to do to even expand our exposure. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Elaine, I wanted to follow up really quickly and ask if you have any data on the gaming industry? How has this affected that as a tourism draw? 

>>ELAINE BEDEL: Well, when you think of gaming being, even sports betting and that type of a thing, obviously, it came back quickly once we were able to play sports. But that's been limited too so any, in essence, tax revenue from that type of gaming has been down. But again, that's all based on how many sports can be played, etc. When you think about the casinos around the state, I think, again, the ones who have taken all the extra steps to have a safe, healthy environment for employees as well as guests. And I know French Lick did a great job with their casino and they really are seeing, maybe not quite the same volume as in the past, but very close to it. Because again, you have to wear a mask. They've got Plexiglas up. They've done all kinds of things to be able to, again, make sure the environment is something that visitors feel comfortable coming in and that employees can work in as well. So I think many of them have done the best they can given the circumstances. 

>>SARAH WHITMER: You mentioned Huber's, Elaine, and I know here locally we have Fowlers Pumpkin Patch and Erin, I was hoping you could talk about just some of these, you know, businesses like that that raise these seasonal products. And then, if the market just kind of falls out, what kind of position are they in? 

>>ERIN PREDMORE: Yeah, I mean, I think that's the scary part, right? Is they put in all of this planning and I mean, we heard that about the Spencer Pride Festival and the Monroe County Fall Festival. I mean, these efforts by businesses as well as, you know, for a standalone festival, they're year-round. And so when you have something like that, like the pumpkin patches that we have going on right now, and if you can't go into the corn maze or maybe you can go through the corn maze, but there's a limited number, it just changes the math for those business owners. I do think there's been some interesting things that have happened, though, around being outside and taking opportunities. Those businesses that have been able to position themselves or maybe had some, you know, the pumpkin patch and, you know, something like that or even a farmer's market where you - people have really been wanting to come out and appreciate the outdoors. And so maybe your apple picking or you're, you know, going out to the farm and you're actually seeing where things are being grown. And so there's there have been some really interesting innovations around business models just based on that, with people, with creative ideas on bringing people out to their space because people have really wanted to be outside. So embracing that and, you know, trying to basically come up with new product lines just to offer to people in creative ways. So it is something that if people don't take advantage of these pivots to the business, that business owners are trying to do then that's when that risk really comes to play because they're not going to be able to get the profit that they need to to be able to put it back into their business for this next year. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: I think this is probably a natural follow up to that. We did have a question about quality of life and these little local festivals. Is the Hoosier and Midwestern culture in danger with many businesses shutting down and festivals being in danger? I'm throwing that out to the group. Anybody want to comment on that? Erin, do you want to start? 

>>ERIN PREDMORE: (Laughter) No, Bob, I don't. That's a really hard question. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: (Laughter) Sorry. 

>>ERIN PREDMORE: No, it's OK. I'll sort of just think out loud about it then. I think that I'm going to say no, that it's not in danger because of the resilience of our community that we've demonstrated through the pandemic. So while, yes, things might be different, the things that we love about who we are as a community and as a region, as a society, as Hoosiers, I don't see any of that going away at all. This time has really challenged all of us and, you know, we are looking for opportunities to connect. I think that's just going to be stronger than ever when we are able to come out on the other side, and so you're going to see a rebound effect, I think, of people - they won't have lost that - the - you know, those cultural identity necessarily part of it, but they'll really be looking for opportunities to express that. And whether it's wearing their - you know, the candy striped pants and being able to go back to the - you know, another basketball game or be able to go to the festival and eat the food that they've missed so much. I mean, all of those things that they are going to identify with are going to be even more in demand once things open back up. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Thank you. That's a great answer. Anybody else want to answer that? 

>>ELAINE BEDEL: Well, this is Elaine, and I will say I agree 100% with what Erin just said. I think we'll rebound back and, you know, I think it'll be even more - a higher desire - higher demand to do some of these things that we now have an appreciation for that maybe we just thought always happen and so, oh, if I don't make it this year, I can go next year. Well, now we know that maybe it won't be there next year. But I think that I agree with what she's saying, that there's going to be a huge comeback. And I think, for the most part, I don't know of too many of the organizations who maybe can't come back - maybe not the same way, maybe in a more hybrid situation, but that will try and do what they did this year. I don't - I'm hoping we won't lose some things. I think what we'll lose, and we've all experienced it in our communities already, are some of the restaurants and other - maybe even some of the - your retail stores that just couldn't make it through the shutdown and the whole pandemic and aren't going to be able to come out on the other side. But hopefully we'll have others that will step in and see an opportunity to maybe establish a business after we're through all of this. But, you know, I think as we think about restaurants as well, those that have been able to really capitalize on outdoor seating to kind of help themselves get through - winter is coming and, you know, they may not have that opportunity to do as much of that. So, again, they're going to have to be some creative thinking. They're - it's unfortunate, if we can't get a vaccine quickly and get people immune to the COVID, that these restaurants are going to find a very difficult time going through the winter with the limited capacity that we now see that they have available to them. 

>>JUDI EPP: This is Judi Epp. I feel the same way as Eileen - or - yeah, Eileen. What our concern is - I think our festival will be back with the venue. This should have been and would have been our biggest festival ever. You all may know we had an issue with the commissioners - the county commissioners early in the year. We were not going to be able to have our festival on the courthouse lawn, we were going to be in the streets, and we expected to be the biggest festival ever because of all the controversy around it. So we won't have that moving into next year, but I feel like a lot of festivals will be bigger and better than ever because people will be so starved for it. My concern is - well, for one thing, the funding between now and then. Our retail space provides 40% of our income, and when we have to shut down or have reduced hours that affects our bottom line. Fortunately, there are generous grant opportunities out there to help us over that hump. But in Spencer, there are a lot of small businesses - there's the two - there are two other small - the Dragonfly and Juniper Galleries - small art eclectic shops, and they have really struggled, as well as the restaurants. And it's not just can a restaurant stay open, but they - if they only do carry out, they need fewer employees. So then you have other people out of work and they can't spend money and you have that ripple effect all over. So that's a concern that I think will be part of the issue with the whole COVID and the lack of festivals. Spencer had several - it wasn't just our festival, they have Christmas on the Square and they have a - Halloween activities and they have a Christian Music Festival and there are several festivals throughout the year that are not happening. So I think it's going to be a real drain on the economy of the town. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Diana, what can people do to help make sure that the Monroe County Fall Festival comes back bigger and better than ever? 

>>DIANA CHOATE: One would be volunteers. People like to draw a paycheck and I tell the people that come new to the meeting, the pay here is just the same whether the people like the festival or not, so we're just here to get your support and for you to help us to make the festival possible. I agree too that I think that festivals will be bigger and better than ever next year with all the people being so anxious to get back into having the festivals. I've had a number of people mention, you know, they want to - they can't wait for the festival for next year. and so I think it will be - you know, like I said, if I can get enough volunteers to make it easy - it's a lot of work and if you only have about 10 volunteers, it's quite a job to put on such a big festival for three days and a big parade and - but also hopefully the people will continue to support our local sponsors. Like Judi said, some of them are really suffering from not being able to be open or very limited, and so the sponsorships are down and so then the money for our entertainment is down. So it's just one big vicious circle, I'm afraid. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Elaine, do you think there are some things that we've learned during COVID that maybe will be incorporated once we're allowed to resume festivals? I'm thinking like some of the - doing some things virtually or something like that? 

>>ELAINE BEDEL: Yes, I do. I mean, I think that we're learning from all of this and I think we'll see more hybrid festivals and galas and things like that that maybe we didn't see before. The technology has worked in most cases to bring people together - not in the way we'd like to be brought together, but to hear a speaker or to enjoy a movie or whatever - a discussion, you know, like this - whatever it might be. I think there's going to be more opportunity for festivals as well as other organizations to provide their artwork, their communications, their discussions - whatever - to a larger audience using the virtual side as well as the in-person side. So I'm looking forward to seeing how the creativeness will happen there. And again, many organizations have said, when they've done something totally virtual instead of having it in person, they actually had more people being able to attend. And if you can work that right, you can raise more money maybe that way as well. So we're probably not - don't have it perfectly figured out yet, but I think it's a great start to what we might see happening in the future. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Erin, we have a question that came in for you, so - it's kind of a quick question. It's not necessarily about festivals, but it is about IU students and how their spending habits have been this fall. I mean, are you seeing a big drop in money that's being spent by students? 

>>ERIN PREDMORE: Well, I think the best statistic I have to share with you is the recent food and beverage tax numbers, which won't just be IU students, but it is a reflection of, I think, their return and also their behaviors. But our food and beverage tax that we received in - so the report for September was about $8,000 more than the support - the report for September last year - so year over year comparison - which was wonderfully good news and was really a cheerful thing that we were - there were a bunch of us on an email and we all had to chime in with our excitement that that was going on. So I guess my response would just be that we think the IU students are being here and they're certainly shopping and eating out, and that's been a real boon to our local economy as we've, you know, continued to navigate the pandemic. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: OK. And, Judi Epp, we have about a minute to go. I just want to give you the opportunity to let us know again about what events the Spencer Pride Festival has going on this week. 

>>JUDI EPP: Thank you. Well, anyone who visits our Facebook page or can see the list of things going on. The Unity shop is open from 10 to seven every day. Tonight is our virtual dance party. Tomorrow is our fundraising event with the - it's called Documentary and Drag. There will be a drag show and then featured speakers and a documentary about the history of the AIDS quilt. Tickets can be purchased through the Tivoli Theater - online through the Tivoli Theater. And we have lots of raffles going on. You can buy tickets online or in person at the shop, and that information is also on our website for the online purchase. We have a 32-inch TV, we have a pride watch, we have a haircare gift basket, we have passes to Conner Prarie and a whole bunch of other stuff. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: OK, I appreciate that. Thank you very much. I'm going to have to end the show now. I want to thank Judi Epp, Erin Predmore, Diana Choate, and Elaine Bedel for being here with us today. And for our producers Bente Bouthier and John Bailey, engineer Matt Stonecipher, for co-host Sara Wittmeyer I'm Bob Zaltsberg, thanks for listening. 


>>UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: NOON EDITION is a production of WFIU Public Radio. A podcast of this program is available at Production support comes from Smithville - fiber internet, streaming TV, home security and automation in southern Indiana. More information at And from Bloomington Health Foundation - partnering with local organizations and citizens to invest in programs that address our community's health needs. Bloomington Health Foundation - improving health and well-being takes a community. More at

fourth of July

The Bloomington square during the 2019 Fourth of July parade. This summer, the parade was called off due to local health guidelines. (Joe Hren, WFIU/WTIU News)

Noon Edition airs on Fridays at noon on WFIU.

Usually, trip advisors say the best time to visit Indiana is between April and October. 

Towns across the state host festivals during the summer and fall, drawing locals out of their homes and attracting people from surrounding areas.

When Gov. Holcomb began reopening the state with his five-stage plan in May, festivals weren’t set to resume until the fifth and final stage.

But, even though Indiana has hit this marker, that doesn’t mean events have returned to normal. 

Many fall festivals in the area have been called off or revised, and some organizations are just now getting to their summer activities.

This week, we’re talking about the effect this has in southern Indiana and how the pandemic is changing  local events.

You can follow us on Twitter @NoonEdition or join us on the air by calling in at 812-855-0811 or toll-free at 1-877-285-9348. You can also send us questions for the show at

Note-This week of our guests and hosts will participate remotely to avoid risk of spreading infection. Because of this we will not be able to take callers live on-air.


Erin Predmore, The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce president and CEO

Judi Epp, Spencer Pride fundraising director

Diana Choate, Monroe County Fall Festival president

Elaine Bedel, Indiana Destination and Development Corporation secretary and CEO 

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