No Heritage Days, but Bath will still celebrate the fourth

The full-day 4th of July festival in Bath will begin with a vintage car show in downtown Bath from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. Photo courtesy of Amanda McDaniel

It’s not Bath Heritage Days, the annual five-day festival that usually takes place in Bath city center around July 4th, but the city will host a free one-day festival, dubbed ‘A Day to Celebrate’ , The 4th of July. .

The downtown revitalization group, Main Street Bath, in partnership with the Chocolate Church Arts Center, hosted the event about a month after Governor Janet Mills lifted all capacity limits and physical distancing requirements in outdoor public places from May 24. These requirements were adopted for the first time. in the hope of mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

About 120 vintage cars will line Front, Elm and Commercial streets of downtown Bath for the Front Street Shuffle car show from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, according to Main Street Bath manager Amanda McDaniel. A craft and make-up tent for children will be available in the library grounds from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Bath Municipal Band will perform patriotic songs in Library Park from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. Photo courtesy of Amanda McDaniel

For fans of live music, the Bath Municipal Band will perform patriotic songs at Library Park from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Slygo Road, a rock, blues and soul group, will perform at Waterfront Park from 5:30 p.m. to 19h. Finally, the Star Club, a band tribute to the Beatles, will invade Waterfront Park from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The celebration will be crowned by fireworks, starting at 9:15 p.m., launched over the Kennebec River. Spectators can watch the show from Waterfront Park.

“It’s not Heritage Days, but I feel like it’s pretty good with the time we’ve been given,” McDaniel said. “You can choose your own adventure with this festival. If you just want to hear some patriotic tunes, bring a chair to Library Park. If you have kids and they want to have fun, there is something for you too.

Bath Heritage Days typically include a parade, carnival, concerts and fireworks, which draw 20,000 to 30,000 people from across the country, according to McDaniel.

The annual festival was canceled at the end of January Main Street Bath, City officials and Bath Police, “agreed it would be difficult to enforce COVID-19 guidelines” during the festival, McDaniel told The Times Record in January. The pandemic also canceled the festival in 2020.

Chocolate Church Arts Center executive director William Lederer said he was thrilled to be able to bring live music to Bath residents and give musicians, who saw their industry dry up during the pandemic, a place where to play.

“July 4th is huge in Bath and it was such a shame Main Street had to cancel Heritage Days, but I still think it was the right decision,” Lederer said. “Back when we had to make a call on Heritage Days, I don’t think anyone thought we would be where we are today. People are so hungry for normality and music again. “

The all-day 4th of July festival in Bath will end with a fireworks display on the Kennebec River at 9:15 p.m. Photo courtesy of Amanda McDaniel

Local businesses are also eagerly awaiting the increased foot traffic the event will bring after tourism slowed by the pandemic last summer.

“We have recently seen a dramatic increase in the number of visitors and locals; I feel like summer started early this year and we expect that to increase, ”said Heather Fear director of marketing for Now You’re Cooking, a kitchen supply store on Front Street. “I think people are so hungry for activities and old friends, and they are looking for opportunities to engage in the places they love in Bath. Heritage Days take 6 months to plan, so for them to organize this abbreviated festival is impressive.

Jennifer DeChant, Bath City Councilor and owner of Bath Sweet Shoppe on Center Street, said the holiday weekend marks her store’s first anniversary, which makes the weekend especially meaningful.

“Last summer we had few tourists, but I feel that pent-up energy for Maine, and July 4th is a gateway for that,” DeChant said. “Celebrating July 4th is a small slice of normalcy. We should take advantage of every second, but not take it for granted. “

While McDaniel isn’t sure how many people are expected to visit the festival, she said the organization’s Facebook post announcing the celebration was viewed by more than 19,000 people on Monday.

The Main Street board of directors voted to cancel what would have been the 49th Annual Heritage Days in January, while the number of COVID-19 cases in the state was still high as the festival takes at least six months to plan. However, the board called in hopes that something smaller could be planned later if the number of COVID-19 cases drops and restrictions relaxed.

Much to the board’s delight, they did.

As of June 14, 86% of Bath’s population had been vaccinated, according to the state’s Vaccine Dashboard. As of Monday, 68% of the eligible Sagadahoc County population, 68%, had received their second dose of the vaccine, just above the statewide vaccination rate of 65%.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported just 13 new cases on Monday, compared to the hundreds of new daily cases reported in late January.

As the state’s COVID-19 cases decline while vaccination rates continue to rise, McDaniel said she was ready to celebrate the state’s “momentum.”

“It would be a missed opportunity if we didn’t do anything to celebrate,” she said. “It means a lot more to us than it once did, just because we have the ability to come together. We are just desperate for normalcy.

In Sagadahoc County, 1,474 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and 11 have died since March 2020, when the pandemic reached Maine, according to the Maine CDC.

Statewide, 68,989 Mainers tested positive on Monday and 858 died, according to the Maine CDC.

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