31st annual Braham Pie Day canceled for 2020

Braham’s signature event, which has previously garnered the city national notoriety, was canceled for 2020 out of concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. It was scheduled to be held Aug. 7.

The 31st annual Braham Pie Day, scheduled for Friday, August 7, has been canceled for this year due to COVID-19 concerns.

“It was a difficult decision,” said Braham Mayor Tish Carlson. “There were some hurt feelings. But we have to put our volunteers’ and our guests’ safety first. We can’t risk anyone in town getting sick.”

The yearly celebration, taking place the first Friday of each August, was called off at the organizing committee’s regular meeting. An announcement on social media followed shortly thereafter:

“The Pie Day Committee met May 18, and after much discussion has decided Braham Pie Day will be canceled for 2020. We weighed and measured all thoughts and possibilities of our current situation with COVID-19 and all the CDC’s recommended requirements, and feel that there is no way to slice it. The safety and health of our community, volunteers, vendors, guests, public safety officers and business owners have to come first. 

We pray that everyone remains healthy and can join us again. We will be back next year, so mark your calendar for Friday, August 6, 2021.”

Carlson said that multiple factors contributed to the decision, particularly the difficulty maintaining social distancing at the popular event. She added 200 to 250 volunteers take part in preparation at several venues around the city, including schools, churches, and the Community Event Center; not all of which are certain to be open on Pie Day. Even if all venues are available, she said, they would be required for extra days.

In addition, said Carlson, organizers need to make significant purchases of ingredients shortly before the events begin. Cancellation at a later date, she observed, would result in a substantial investment that may not be recovered. Other local venues are facing these issues as well, she said, such as county fairs and the Isanti Rodeo.

Carlson recently visited the Cambridge Farmers Market where she observed that vendors are required to place a second table between themselves and guests, reducing the available space. She added that, due to health regulations, Pie Day volunteers would not even be allowed to sample the pies. 

Pie Day began in July of 1990 as a pie and ice cream social, funded by a state tourism grant. In 1992 the date changed to the first Friday in August. The event has grown to include crafters, folk artists, storytellers, musicians, performances, and contests. Carlson estimated that 5,000 to 6,000 guests visit the event each year, and volunteers serve more than 700 homemade and artisan pies.

The committee is considering alternative “virtual” events for Pie Day, said Carlson, and announcements will follow soon. 

“We hope things will get back to normal,” she said, “though we’re not entirely sure what ‘normal’ will look like.”

Also earlier this week, both the Isanti and Chisago County Fairs were canceled. Those announcements were made shortly following the Pine County Fair was the first county fair to pull the plug on this year’s schedule.

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