The coronavirus pandemic may have altered some long-standing and much loved local events, but it didn’t stop them.
Many county residents masked up and socially distanced themselves to enjoy two such events Saturday. The Galveston Island Shrimp Festival and League City’s Harvest Festival normally would see hundreds of patrons gather for family friendly fun, but the pandemic forced event organizers to scale back and retool.
Still, there were good times to be had.
Plans for the 11th annual shrimp festival had called for multiple cook-offs, live music performances, a 5K fun run, a gumbo stroll offering tastings, a night-before party and a parade.
However, to still put on the festival while maintaining state-mandated COVID-19 protocols, this year’s festival had one cook-off featuring nine teams and a limited gumbo stroll. And it was moved from The Strand to 28th Street and Seawall Boulevard to help limit crowds.
“We kind of just took it down to the basics,” festival organizer Mike Dean said. “The gumbo stroll is something we felt like we could do safely following the guidelines from the governor.”
In spite of the festival being scaled-back this year, Kimberly Gibbons of the cook-off team Chili Belles — which has participated in the event since the beginning — still wanted to be a part of the festivities Saturday.
“It just keeps us coming back together,” Gibbons said.
CELEBRATING THE HARVEST
The annual Harvest Festival at Hometown Heroes Park in League City typically draws about 500 people gathering to give and get candy and other goodies and take part in a costume contest and other activities.
Organizers of the festival still planned to greet about 500 people Saturday, but the event looked a little different this year.
A drive-through candy pick-up station was set up, as were socially distanced photo booths outside for the costume contest and a station for people to drop off their pre-carved pumpkins for a pumpkin-carving contest.
“We still wanted to do something for everybody,” League City recreation supervisor Katrina Hersh said.
League City resident Mark Fletcher, a Navy veteran, and his young daughter Jolene had never participated in the harvest festival before, but they saw the event as a good way to get out of the house, and they plan on coming back next year, Fletcher said.
“Normally, I would bypass these events, but because we’ve been locked down and shut in for so long, I said, ‘You know, let’s just go do it,’” Fletcher said.