BERLIN – In an effort to err on the side of caution during the ongoing health crisis, the Berlin Chamber of Commerce has canceled all events through June.
The announcement means that the Berlin Jazz and Blues, Wine and Brews Festival, the Spring Cruisers Classic Car Show and the Berlin Bathtub Races will not take place as scheduled. Steve Frene, president of the chamber, stressed that the bathtub races and possibly the car show could be rescheduled.
“Obviously this was an extremely hard decision,” Frene said. “We had lengthy discussions.”
Frene said the chamber worked closely with the Town of Berlin in making the decision to cancel events. Berlin Mayor Gee Williams said in a statement Monday that all public events in town set for April, May and June have been canceled.
While Frene believes the current health situation could improve by May, he said chamber officials didn’t want to take a chance on having an event too soon. He added that most events involved a fair amount of planning, preparation and even ticket sales.
“We didn’t feel it would be enough time,” he said.
Though the Jazz and Blues, Wine and Brews Festival will not be rescheduled, as vendors are already booked during the summer months, Frene said it was possible that the car show and the bathtub races in particular could be rescheduled.
“We remain optimistic about rescheduling the bathtub races,” he said. “A lot of those folks do it every year. There’s not a ton of preparation. Look for that to come back later this summer.”
He added that the chamber and town officials would be collaborating to host an “Over the Rainbow” party once COVID-19 restrictions had been lifted.
“Once we’re in the all-clear the chamber and town will work hand in hand to create an event that will be a celebration that we’ve made it through and it’s safe to come out,” he said. “That’s our pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”
In the meantime, he said the chamber was doing its best to support the businesses who were able to remain open as Maryland’s stay-at-home directive was in place. The organization is sharing information regarding loans and grants available to small businesses and is also doing what it can to encourage people to support merchants that remain open offering delivery and carryout.
“We’ll get through it,” he said.
Frene said that though there would be new norms when shops reopened, the chamber would do whatever it could to help rebuild business in Berlin.
“We’ll be doing whatever we can to bring Berlin back,” he said, adding that he was optimistic. “We’ll bounce back. Berlin is such a source of joy and pleasure to so many people.”