Grove City events: City holding out hope for summertime plans

Alan Froman
ThisWeek group

After a 2020 in which virtually all summertime events planned by the city of Grove City and the Heart of Grove City were canceled, plans are underway for the events to return later this year.

"There's light at the end of the tunnel, but the only question is whether it's actually another oncoming train," Grove City recreation supervisor Kelly Sutherland said. "We're planning for the events as if it's a pre-COVID(-19) time, but we just don't know where we're going to be later this year. We don't know where we'll be with the vaccines and whether the COVID restrictions will be lifted."

Tentative dates have been set for all the warm-weather events, beginning with the Friday Night Grand Slam scheduled April 30 at Windsor Park, followed by the baseball opening day and Wall of Fame breakfast May 1, Sutherland said.

Grove City’s baseball water tower at Windsor Park

The Grand Slam is a community festival celebrating baseball in Grove City.

If the event is able to be held as scheduled, it will include a parade of players participating in the city's Buddy Ball, T-Ball and youth baseball programs, Sutherland said.

But that's a big if, she said.

It all depends on whether the state restrictions limiting gatherings to 10 or fewer people continue, Sutherland said.

Last year the decision-making process was easy, she said.

"We knew early on that we were going to have to cancel all of the events we sponsor," Sutherland said.

This year, preliminary planning will proceed, but the point at which an event officially will be canceled might be only days before the scheduled date, she said.

The biggest problem might involve making arrangements with bands or vendors who might choose other money-making opportunities if uncertainty remains about a Grove City event, Sutherland said.

Other tentative event dates include the Gardens at Gantz Herb, Perennial & Landscape Plant Sale, May 8; the Grove City Community Winds concert, May 25; the opening of the Big Splash over the Memorial Day weekend; the Heritage Festival at Century Village, June 5; the city's July 4 fireworks; the Homecoming Celebration, July 23 in conjunction with the Grove City Alumni Softball Tournament; and the Purple Heart Memorial Weekend, Aug. 6-10.

The last event is planned as a replacement for the Ohio Flags of Honor traveling memorial Grove City had hosted for eight years, Sutherland said.

"The gentleman who runs that program has retired, so we will be holding a special tribute at our Purple Heart Memorial at Henceroth Park," she said. "The memorial honors residents from our community who have earned a Purple Heart, as well as firefighters and police officers."

More details about the events will be released in the coming months, assuming they will be able to be held, Sutherland said.

Dates also have been set for the summer events sponsored by the Heart of Grove City, the nonprofit group that promotes the Town Center.

City Council on Feb. 1 approved resolutions waiving the city's open-container provisions for the Wine & Arts Festival, June 18-19; the Tacos & Tequila Festival, July 17; and the Bourbon Festival, Aug. 14.

All three events were canceled last year due to the pandemic, said Andy Furr, Heart of Grove City's executive director.

The Tacos & Tequila Festival was a new event slated to be held for the first time in 2020, he said.

Whether any of the festivals will be held this year is still to be determined, Furr said.

"Until the governor lifts the orders (limiting gatherings) of 10 or more, the state will not issue the F permits (a temporary permit allowing a nonprofit organization to sell alcohol)," he said. "Until that is lifted, obviously, that's one of our biggest hurdles.

"We have to wait to see what happens," Furr said. "But without that permit, we can't have any of these events."

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