The Fort Atkinson Generals announced their annual Baseball Festival was canceled in a news release Monday morning.
The announcement comes one day after the Generals originally were scheduled to begin their season Sunday, May 4 before the Home Talent League postponed the season to a start date of June 7.
The 19th incarnation of Baseball Fest was scheduled to take place June 18-21 at Jones Park.
“From the beginning, we vowed to follow the guidance of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the directions of Governor (Tony Evers) and guidelines provided by the City of Fort Atkinson to determine whether it would be possible to hold a safe event this summer. Unfortunately, it appears we will not be able to do that,” said Generals Board President Jim Roethel in the news release.
The cancellation is the latest event to be canceled during the coronavirus pandemic responsible for infecting people with covid-19. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers extended his safer-at-home order to reduce the spread of the virus through May 26, but has relaxed restrictions recently in hopes the spread of the disease will trend downward.
Funds raised during Baseball Fest help support expenses for the Fort Atkinson Generals and also get put toward projects at Jones Park. The Generals have spent $118,000 in improvements at Jones Park in the last 18 years, according to the news release.
“Our team is proud of the type of event Baseball Fest has become,” Generals manager Sam Hartwick said. “We’re disappointed Baseball Fest will not take place as planned this year. But we look forward to future editions of the event. More importantly we cannot wait to be back at the ball diamond playing in front of the greatest fans in the Home Talent League.”
The overall event includes carnival rides, a softball game between Jefferson and Fort Atkinson Civil Servants, a hot dog eating contest and a baseball tournament with eight teams including Milton, Rome, Jefferson and Fort Atkinson among others.
Milton, which plays in the Rock River League, won the Baseball Fest tournament three times in the last decade. Milton manager Doug Welch said he was saddened by the news.
“The tournament always gives us the opportunity to see some teams from the Home Talent and Land O’ Lakes leagues that we don’t see throughout the summer,” Welch said. “The diamond is top-notch and the crowd is always large and vocal. And there’s dollar beer.
“When you play in that championship game on Baseball Fest’s Friday night, it’s nothing short of baseball nirvana.
“Where else in the state of Wisconsin is there a festival dedicated to the celebration of amateur baseball?”