The La Kermesse Franco-Americaine Heritage Festival won’t be happening this year, with the 21-member board of directors voting Tuesday, March 30, to postpone the event until 2022, citing continuing concerns over coronavirus. Dina Mendros/Journal Tribune file photo

BIDDEFORD — Citing ongoing coronavirus pandemic concerns, organizers of the La Kermesse Franco-Américaine Heritage Festival have decided to concentrate their efforts on 2022 and are canceling the festival this year.

The board of directors of the popular festival that celebrates the French heritage of the region met Tuesday, March 30 and made their decision, citing concerns over attendee and vendor safety, as well as logistical challenges to ensure social distancing and best practices for virus prevention.

“After much debate and consideration, the board of directors for the La Kermesse Franco-Americaine Heritage Festival has decided with great regret to postpone the 2021 festival to 2022,” the directors said in a news release issued March 31. “The festival will be held on June 23-26, 2022 at St. Louis Field in Biddeford.”

La Kermesse festival board President Jessica Quattrone expressed similar concerns.

“This decision was not taken lightly,” said Quattrone. “While we had an incredible and exciting festival planned for this year, we value our community and know in our heart’s we must prioritize their safety over all else. We look forward to coming back stronger than ever in 2022.”

This is the second year the festival was postponed. Quattrone, by phone on Wednesday,  said the group begins meeting in August to plan the festival for the following June and bided their time, hoping the coronavirus vaccination program would have been further along.

She said the 21-member board did its homework, examining  CDC guidelines and contacting Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine’s CDC director, for advice on how to keep people safe – but came to the conclusion that the way ahead was to postpone the event this year.

“We felt it would not be fully safe, and we didn’t want La Kermesse (to be) synonymous with a large outbreak,” Quattrone said.

The decision — which was a unanimous vote — was made now because people make plans around the festival, she said.

Quattrone said the group will put its energy into the 2022 festival.

The La Kermesse Franco-Americaine Heritage Festival has been a long-standing tradition in Biddeford since its inception in 1983, and this June’s festival would have been the 38th after last year’s first postponement. The 4-day festival includes a parade, and field activities including live entertainment, rides, traditional Franco-American cuisine and more.

Other festival organizers across the state are making decisions on whether to hold their annual celebrations or to postpone until 2022.

Organizers of the Yarmouth Clam Festival made their decision to skip 2021 and concentrate on 2022 back in February.

On Tuesday evening, organizers of the Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland announced the festival would be canceled this year, as it was in 2020.

The Maine Lobster Festival Board of Directors voted unanimously to cancel the 2021 event because of continued concerns about COVID-19.

Maine Lobster Festival Board President Celia Crie Knight told the Rockland Courier Gazette that she has been wishing she had a crystal ball for the last several months.

“I don’t think we could keep the volunteers and visitors safe. I don’t want us to become a super spreader,” Knight said of the 74-year-old Rockland event.

Comments are not available on this story.