ChiliFest 2019

A chili-cook-off contestant mixes their entry during ChiliFest in Deerfield in September 2019.

Deerfield ChiliFest is the latest annual local event to fall to COVID-19.

The Deerfield Lions Club announced Thursday July 30 that ChiliFest will not happen in 2020.

It had been scheduled for Sept. 26 in Deerfield Fireman’s Park.

Lions Club President Andy Grosvold said organizers had been hopeful in late spring that the event, that includes a chili cook-off, car show, vendor and farmers markets, live music and other activities, could proceed.

But he said as the summer progressed and COVID-19 cases began to rise locally again, it became clear that an event that revolved around food and typically drew a large crowd could not be pulled off.

“The last straw,” Grosvold said, was a Public Health Madison & Dane County order that came down on July 2, that has since limited indoor gatherings in Dane County to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 25 people. Soon after that came a public health order that required masks to be worn in Dane County in indoor public spaces. And Gov. Tony Evers followed that on July 30 with a statewide order requiring masks to be worn indoors in Wisconsin.

“It’s been kind of a slow progression,” Grosvold said. “We were super optimistic in March that we had plenty of time, that this was going to work itself out,” but ultimately it was not to be, he said.

Grosvold said the Lions Club is discussing holding a series of drive-through food pick-up events beginning in late August, and said more details on that will be forthcoming.

“We’ve got some ideas in the works. We know the community would want to come out and support us, and we think we could do it safely,” he said.

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