Monday, April 12, 2021

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North Branford POCO Announces 'Plans In the Works' for Aug. 5 - 8

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Fireworks light up the sky over the midway at a past POCO festival. After a year's hiatus, POCO is on the calendar with plans in the works for a four-day event at Augur Field, Aug. 5 - 8, 2021, based on the ability to meet forthcoming state regulations.

File Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound

Fireworks light up the sky over the midway at a past POCO festival. After a year's hiatus, POCO is on the calendar with plans in the works for a four-day event at Augur Field, Aug. 5 - 8, 2021, based on the ability to meet forthcoming state regulations. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound | Buy This Photo)

After a year's hiatus, North Branford's much-loved Potato and Corn Festival (POCO) is back on the calendar, with 'plans in the works' for four days, Aug. 5 – Aug. 8 at the POCO grounds at Augur Field. However, those plans, and the ability for the event to take place, will be based on whether the 'fest can address potential additional requirements and financial costs wrought by any forthcoming COVID-19 regulations in the coming weeks and months, said POCO Coordinator Jenn McCulloch.

Following Gov. Ned Lamont's announcement earlier this week lifting crowd restrictions as of April 2 to allow for summer festivals (with masking and proper distancing), the festival announced calendar dates for the four-day event on Friday, March 5 at its Facebook page (@NorthBranfordPoCoFest). The post noted the 20th annual POCO festival is "on the calendar" for four days Thursday, Aug. 5 - Sunday August 8, and that "plans are in the works." 

Usually planned for three days, an extra day (Thursday) is being added this year to help spread out potential crowds at the festival site. Exact details of what will take place at the festival over the four days in the planning still rely on a number of factors, said McCulloch.

McCulloch also emphasized the 2021 calendar date announcement, while exciting news for residents, "... by no means is a guarantee" that the festival will return in full form this summer.

"We need to be understanding and flexible. We're all doing our best to make it something to look forward to and that can happen, based on the forthcoming regulations, and the financial feasibility of being able to follow them, and keeping everyone safe and healthy," said McCulloch. "Even if the festival cannot be held as it has in the past, we will have a back up plan of hosting small events as a deconstructed festival," with dates to be determined.

McCulloch thanks North Branford Parks and Recreation Department, the Recreation Commission, members of the POCO committee and volunteers for their efforts to assist during this process.

McCulloch is also hoping to emphasize to residents that POCO volunteers are needed to help the festival succeed, this year more than ever.

"We are going to need more volunteers than ever in order to be able to hold the festival this year," said McCulloch.

While volunteers always receive a POCO t-shirt and a food voucher, this year, POCO will also be giving a free ride wrist band to anyone volunteering for at least two shifts. To sign up to volunteer, visit nbpotatofest.com

Without a clear plan for what additional financial constraints the festival may face in order to meet any forthcoming state regulations, McCulloch also emphasized that while POCO is hosted by North Branford Parks and Recreation Department, the event is self-sustaining and relies on donations and fundraising for financial support.

Last week, POCO and North Branford Parks and Recreation launched two exciting community raffles with big prizes that are also designed to show support for North Branford and Northford eateries as well as local breweries and vineyards (see related story).

The headline and story have been changed to include the correct four calendar dates of August 5 - 8 and to also note that specific 'plans are in the works' due to the unpredictable nature of COVID 19.


Pam Johnson covers news for Branford and North Branford for Zip06. Email Pam at p.johnson@shorepublishing.com.

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