Despite the cancellation of the 22nd annual Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, organizers at Visit Gahanna aren't missing a beat in trying to help the local economy.

Lori Kappes, executive director of Visit Gahanna, which puts on the festival, said efforts have turned to asking residents to shop and eat local.

At the same time, businesses are being encouraged to following health and safety guidelines to give customers the confidence to return.

Kappes said the music festival, which was scheduled June 19-21, is business lost.

The festival annually attracts about 32,000 visitors to the Creekside District for music, food, entertainment and activities.

"It is difficult for us to know what kind of financial impact the festival has had on businesses without asking each and every one of them," Kappes said. "Suffice it to say that businesses are hurting, period."

Gahanna mayor Laurie Jadwin said it was impossible to properly prepare for the festival because of the situation imposed by the coronavirus.

She previously served as the festival's chairman while also serving as Visit Gahanna's executive director.

Kappes said Visit Gahanna is trying to promote Gahanna businesses of all types as much as possible on social media with multiple posts a day using the hashtags #SupportingGahannaTogether and #InThisTogetherOhio.

"We have been offering contests with prizes for people to engage with us," Kappes said.

Visit Gahanna is preparing to release the Summer Herbal Cocktail Trail locations as well as summer programming for the Ohio Herb Education Center.

Updates will be posted at visitgahanna.com.

"We are continuing to market local businesses and encouraging people to take advantage of what is in their own backyards so to speak," Kappes said.

She said local business owners also are encouraged to "Live Forward" by signing the Live Forward Pledge from Experience Columbus.

The pledge is meant to assure customers that each business that reopens is putting health and safety at the forefront

"Signing the pledge signals an agreement made by businesses to follow federal, state and local health and safety guidelines for proper reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic," according to the Experience Columbus website, experiencecolumbus.com.

"Once signed, businesses will receive a window decal as well as a customizable signage toolkit to alert patrons of their commitment to the Live Forward pledge."

A list of assistance options, guidance on reopening and new requirements can be found online at Coronavirus.Ohio.Gov/BusinessHelp.

Kappes said Visit Gahanna has helped promote the city's parks, trails and outdoor activities heavily since the start of the pandemic.

"In collaboration with the Ohio Herb Center, we are currently working on the Herbal Walking Trail Guide," she said. "We created a driving scavenger hunt around Gahanna for families to participate in."

The Ohio Herb Center, 110 Mill St., is planning to offer herbal lemonade and iced tea for people to enjoy on the front and back porches this summer.

"It will be free, donations welcomed," Kappes said. "Just a way to build awareness about the herb center and we thought it would be nice thing, especially for those who don't have a porch of their own to enjoy."

Upcoming classes at the center will focus on herbal cleaning, herbal self-care products and backyard pollinators.

For a list and new safety protocols, go to ohioherbcenter.org/learn-classes-1.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla