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EDITORIAL: Vendors persevered on their own

Lead Summary

Vendors had buttoned up for the night in Whiteside Park before a fast moving wind storm wreaked havoc Friday night.
They would return to find tents smashed or relocated by the wind across the park or by the Little League field. Some tents were under fallen trees. Miraculously no injuries were reported.
Faced with a mess and the need for a significant clean up operation, the Ely Chamber of Commerce made the decision to cancel the remaining two days of the 2021 Blueberry/Art Festival.
The decision was the Chamber’s to make and there were numerous reasons to do so. Some would argue the event could have resumed later on Saturday. And that there should have been a contingency plan in place.
We agree on the need for a contingency plan that could have been implemented to relocate vendors who wanted to stay. That could’ve been part of the event’s insurance coverage as well.
Instead the power was shut off to the food vendors and the park was closed. For those who were willing to stay and make the best of a bad situation, it appears they were left to their own devices.
Fortunately, business owners and other property owners stepped up to the plate and provided space for food trucks and booths.
Saturday morning vehicles streamed into Ely looking for the festival. Even with the park out of business, people parked and walked the sidewalks. Food vendors were set up at different locations and by all accounts, did very well.
There were only a few booths but they were busy and Ely businesses reported an increase in shoppers who may have in the past only went to the park and then left town.
Kudos to the vendors who made lemonade out of lemons by striking out on their own and finding a temporary home. And thank you to those who offered their property. We also need to recognize the mayor who directed the city to wave all transient merchant and food truck licenses for the weekend.
We suggest the Chamber learn from this and have a plan in place to relocate vendors in event of a windstorm.
Lord knows we have a good chance of having another one.

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