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Lompoc's SpringFest celebration called off as coronavirus outbreak continues
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Lompoc's SpringFest celebration called off as coronavirus outbreak continues

From the March 13 recap: Lompoc news you may have missed this week series
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Kids in inflated balls try to stay upright in a pool at Lompoc's SpringFest celebration at Ryon Park in this April 18, 2019, file photo. The 2020 event was called off Friday amid concerns over the growing coronavirus outbreak.

For the first time in 34 years, the city of Lompoc will not host its annual SpringFest celebration.

The event, which typically kicks off the local festival calendar, was canceled Friday amid growing concern surrounding COVID-19, the coronavirus that has become a global pandemic.

The Lompoc Valley Festival Association's board of directors made the decision to call off the event after the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department on Thursday declared a public health emergency and recommended no gatherings of more than 250 people through at least March 30.

SpringFest had been scheduled for April 17 through 19 at Ryon Park.

John Keth, president of the Festival Association, said Friday that the decision to cancel the event was necessary, even though it was scheduled for several days after the state and county restrictions on crowds were set to potentially expire.

“If they extended it, we would’ve lost a lot of money on that,” Keth said, noting that commitments to secure the park, among other logistics, would have proven too risky. “So we had to make [the decision] from a financial standpoint, as well as a safety standpoint because most of our volunteers are elderly or have underlying health issues. We don’t need to get them sick.

“It’s for the safety of the community, the vendors and the volunteers, all included,” he added.

SpringFest, which began as the Spring Arts Festival, celebrated its 33rd year in 2019. The event typically features food and merchandise vendors, live entertainment and a carnival. It serves as somewhat of a precursor for the larger Lompoc Valley Flower Festival, which is held each summer at Ryon Park.

In a statement announcing the SpringFest cancellation, the Festival Association's board of directors expressed confidence that the 2020 Flower Festival would proceed as planned from June 24 through 28.

"Our plan is to put our energy into our upcoming Flower Festival," the statement read.

Keth noted that those plans are extremely fluid.

“I’ll be keeping a really close eye on that, watching the dates and seeing what’s going on,” he said Friday.

For more information on Lompoc Valley Festival Association events, visit www.lompocvalleyfestivals.com.

Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.

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Willis Jacobson covers news and other issues, primarily those that affect the Lompoc Valley and Vandenberg Air Force Base, for Lee Central Coast News. He is a graduate of The University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications.

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Along with declaring a local emergency, which made the city eligible for potential reimbursements from FEMA, the City Council voted unanimously to waive late fees and nonpayment shut-offs for utility customers, to close City Hall to the public beginning Wednesday, and to cancel all future committee and commission meetings — except for those of the City Council and Planning Commission — through April.

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