German Village in 2021: Society officials remain cautious about planning year's events

Gary Seman Jr.
ThisWeek group
Chris Hune, German Village Society board of trustees president, is shown Dec. 18 at Frank Fetch Park in Columbus. Hune said it's uncertain if the society's signature events will be held in 2021 because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. “Every quarter, we’re going to reassess where we are, look at what kind of direction we can go,” she said. “But we haven’t committed to anything.”

The German Village Society will head into 2021 facing the real possibility that the neighborhood’s signature events could be canceled again because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

“Right now, it’s just neutral,” said Chris Hune, president of the society’s board of trustees. “You make a commitment to something, things shift again, and you’re right back where you started from.”

The German Village Society is in a unique position for an urban neighborhood in that it relies largely on money from major events, such as the Haus und Garten Tour, and membership fees for a large part of its budget.

Without those, the society has few opportunities to make up for those budget shortfalls, according to leaders.

In October, the board eliminated two of its four staff positions at the Meeting Haus. Delilah Lopez, executive director, and Dustin Speakman, manager of events and engagement, served their last days Nov. 1. Andrew Dodson, manager of historic outreach, and Salvatore Reedus, preservation and development coordinator, meanwhile, remain in place.

A bright spot in fundraising during 2020 was the virtual tour of German Village kitchens on Aug. 27. While it was similar to the Haus und Garten Tour, it included video cooking demonstrations, music and raffles.

The event added about $50,000 for the society's coffers, meaning it likely will be held again in some fashion, Hune said.

“Every quarter, we’re going to reassess where we are, look at what kind of direction we can go,” she said. “But we haven’t committed to anything.”

It’s unusual to have so many events canceled in German Village, a place where residents like to congregate on a large scale and invite others to join them, Hune said.

“We’re a very social group of people, and it’s very frustrating that we can’t socialize,” she said.

Beth Burson, who joined the society boardin 2020, said she has been active in many local activities since moving to the neighborhood in 2012.

Residents can expect some fresh ideas in 2021, Burson said.

“I think we’re having to get creative,” she said. “We’re coming up with ideas that are new. Some have been well received, some are easy to implement, some have not been. I would say we’re learning as we go and pivoting where we need to.”

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary