The Elk Grove Western Festival was canceled again this year, one of the city’s enduring events that fell victim to ongoing coronavirus concerns and sponsorship battles, the event’s organizer said Friday.
“It’s an attempt,” a disappointed Ken Johnston, the festival’s longtime organizer, said Friday of the decision weeks ahead of the festival’s May date. “It takes a lot of planning, entertainment, sponsorship and many (sponsors) have not responded because of the virus and the economy,” Johnston said.
Johnston was excited for the Western Festival to return in 2022 in the wake of the ongoing pandemic, and subsequent discussions with officials from Elk Grove and the Cosumnes Community Services District resulted in the cancellation of the 2021 event.
But the ongoing pandemic “takes a toll on many of our members. We’ve lost a few to the virus,” he said. Those concerns were felt outside of the festival as well, impacting sponsorships and entertainment bookings and forcing organizers to pull the plug on an event in 2022.
the Elk Grove Western Festival started more than 60 years ago as an event to raise money for the city’s schools, but has since grown into one of Elk Grove’s most popular events, drawing thousands of people to Elk Grove Regional Park
Now, Johnston says, this latest setback will give organizers time to take a fresh look at the decades-old event.
“We thought we would take a step back, reinvent ourselves and come back with a better program,” he said.