By David Hazledine
MILFORD — Milford Fest is back on the calendar for Saturday, May 29, though with a different name and different organizers.
Tom Beer, owner of Milford-based Beer and Jessop Amusements, the company providing rides for Milford Fest since 2008, received approval from Milford Town Council for “Milford Family Fun Fest” at its Monday, April 12, public meeting.
The council voted unanimously to approve closures on Main Street for events including a car show, electricity, insurance and an allowance for garage sales to not count against the yearly limit.
In a press release, BAJA also requested donations to “help make Milford Family Fun Fest 2021 happen.” Donors may send check or money order to P.O Box 29, Milford, IN. 46542, with checks made out to B.A.J.A.
“The amount of donations received will determine how much equipment can be provided for the event. We are also asking for donations for trophies for the car show and donations so that port-a-pots can be provided for all attending.”
As in previous years, the town will close downtown sections of Main Street starting at 5 p.m. May 27, through 8 a.m. May 30. Community building parking lot will also be closed from noon May 27 to 8 a.m. May 30. Street closure details will be printed nearer the event date.
For the last decade, Milford Fest has been organized by Milford Lions, with BAJA providing rides at a reduced rate. However, in March the Lions announced due to the uncertainty caused by COVID, they would cancel the 2021 event with the intention of coming back in 2022.
At the April 12 meeting, Lion and former organizer Amber Kolberg explained, “It takes a lot to put on,” and not knowing what “life was going to be like” at Memorial Day weekend made it difficult to get sponsors and make all the necessary preparations. “If you can pull this off in a month, more power to you,” she said.
Beer informed the council he had received approval from Kosciusko County Health Department Administrator Bob Weaver. The rides will each have hand sanitizer stations and CDC guidelines will be followed.
As for masks, Beer said, “It’s up to the public,” and he noted mandates were lifted April 6. Beer added school guidelines had also reduced safe distancing to 3 feet.
Council member Ken Long agreed, commenting, “It boils down to personal choice.”
In response to Milford Police Chief Derek Kreider’s inquiries about an entertainment permit, locations and security for rides and stages, Beer admitted he did not yet have details, as the event is “kind of in its infancy.”
Milford Redevelopment Commission President Dan Brown commended the Beers, recalling their involvement with Milford Fest “goes back to the great recession … They came in and did it really cheap … We’re fortunate to have a company from right here in Milford to step up.”
Town Clerk Tricia Gall, also a Lions Club member, suggested the Beers attend a Lions Club meeting “out of respect for the Lions” to discuss the event. “Maybe some people want to help,” she said.
Beer expressed frustration at not being informed of the cancellation by the Lions. “I got it through second-hand information,” he said.
Becky Alles, Van Buren Township Trustee and Kiwanis Club member, said Kiwanis would also be holding its sausage and pancake breakfast the morning of Milford Family Fun Fest, May 29. “All are invited,” she said, and carry-outs will also be available.
“Keeping this alive is something that speaks for Milford,” said another community member. “People need something right now,” Long added.
For more information go to www.bajamusements.com or (574) 518-1586.